Mechanized and natural soil-to-air transfer of trifluralin and prometryn from a cotton field in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Britt A. Holmén, John Kasumba, April Hiscox, Junming Wang, David Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two pre-emergence herbicides (trifluralin and prometryn) were applied on a cotton field in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and their atmospheric particle and gas-phase concentrations were measured during mechanized soil preparation and natural wind erosion sampling events before and after herbicide application. Air sampling was conducted using samplers mounted at various heights from the ground and at various locations on the field. During mechanized soil management with a disk harrow, sampling occurred at two distances from the tractor ("near-source", 4 m downwind and "far-source", 20-100 m from the disking tractor). Natural background (no disking) sampling events occurred during daytime and at night. Both herbicides were quantifiable for all postapplication sampling events, including background sampling that occurred 8, 38, and 40 days after herbicide application. Average concentrations in both the gas and particle phases ranged from about 10 to 350 ng/m3. Averaging by event type, mean total prometryn concentrations were 2 (night background) to 8 (near-source) times higher than the corresponding trifluralin concentrations. Prometryn/trifluralin ratios were higher in airborne samples than in soil, indicative of trifluralin losses during daytime sampling, possibly via atmospheric reactions. Prometryn particle phase mass fractions were generally higher than those for trifluralin for all sampling events, consistent with Kair/soil-oc partition coefficients, and particle-phase mass fractions were higher for near-source disking and daytime background sampling compared to far-source and nighttime. Daytime natural background prometryn concentrations could be as high as those measured during disking, and background samples showed significant relationships to meteorological parameters (air temperature, relative humidity, and dewpoint). Mechanical disturbance by tilling operations reduced the ability to predict airborne herbicide concentrations on the basis of meteorological conditions. Prometryn concentrations were higher for larger particle sizes (Dp > 1.8 μm), while no clear patterns with particle size were observed for trifluralin. Trifluralin concentrations in the smallest size bin (PM0.18) were 2-50 times higher than prometryn for the three disking events where an impactor was used, indicating the importance of measuring size-resolved herbicide distributions in future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9776-9783
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 16 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • agricultural emissions
  • air-soil distribution
  • disk harrow
  • gas/particle partitioning
  • herbicide
  • prometryn
  • soil preparation
  • trifluralin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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