Humic substances (HS) are the dominant constituents of soil organic matter (SOM). The interactions between the phenylurea herbicide 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)- 1,1-dimethylurea (diuron) and several HS fractions, purified from various soil horizons, were studied. One commercial humic acid (HA) was included for comparison. Diuron was shown to adsorb significantly, but reversibly, to purified HA while sorption to fulvic acid (FA) was less pronounced. The sorption abilities of the purified HS fractions were correlated with their total aromatic content. In natural soils, SOM was the main adsorbent of diuron, but the organic matter partition coefficient was larger in sandy compared to clayey soils. Degradation of diuron in natural soils was slow and incomplete. Inoculation of a sandy C-horizon with a diuron-degrading bacterial strain led to substantial diuron degradation, but the addition of purified FA and HA to these inoculated soils decreased this degradation. The main metabolite produced during diuron degradation, 3,4-dichloroaniline, was bound irreversibly to HS within days after formation.
- Programme Area 2: Water Resources