Groundwater residues of atrazine and alachlor under water-table management practices

P. K. Kalita, R. S. Kanwar, J. L. Baker, S. W. Melvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study was conducted to investigate the effects of various water-table management (WTM) practices on the concentrations of two surface-applied herbicides, atrazine and alachlor, in a shallow groundwater system. Groundwater samples were collected by installing piezometers and suction tubes at Iowa State University's research centers near Ames and Ankeny during three corn-growing seasons, 1989-1991. At the Ames site, experiments were conducted by maintaining constant water-table depths (WTD) of 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 m in nine field-type lysimeters, and groundwater samples were collected from various depths during the corn-growing seasons. At the Ankeny site, a dual-pipe subirrigation system was installed on a 0.85 ha field, and variable water-table depths were maintained. Analysis of water samples collected in 1989, 1990, and 1991 clearly indicates that atrazine and alachlor concentrations in groundwater could be substantially reduced by maintaining shallow WTD during the growing season. It was also observed that atrazine concentrations were higher than those of alachlor. Alachlor was not detected in many samples; however, atrazine was detected in all samples, with high concentrations at the Ames site at the 0.9 m WTD, and at the Ankeny site at deeper WTD. Pesticide concentrations in groundwater decreased with soil depth and time. Results of this study suggest a positive influence of WTM practices in reducing pesticide concentrations in groundwater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-614
Number of pages10
JournalTransactions of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Alachlor
  • Atrazine
  • Groundwater quality
  • Water table management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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