Comparison of field methyl isothiocyanate flux following Pacific Northwest surface-applied and ground-incorporated fumigation practices


Correspondence to: Vincent R Hebert,

Food and Environmental Quality Laboratory,

Washington State University Tri Cities,

2710 Crimson Way, Richland, WA, USA.




A fumigant volatilization emission was conducted in Washington State in the fall of 2008 to estimate flux following applications of metam sodium by modified low-boom-height (LBH) center-pivot chemigation and soil-incorporated shank injection. This study was performed in a commercial potato field circle to assess emission rates and total cumulative field loss of methyl isothiocyanate (MITC) (the biologically active conversion product of metam sodium) under conditions typical for fall Pacific Northwest potato preplant fumigation. This assessment provides regionally specific MITC emission rate information for modeling appropriate field-edge set-back buffer distances for bystander protection.


Soil-incorporated shank injection appreciably reduced MITC emissions, with lower periodic flux compared with low-drift surface-applied LBH chemigation during treatment applications and over the 4 day post-fumigation experimental timeframe. The estimated total cumulative fumigant loss was 13% by shank injection compared with 47% by LBH chemigation over the application/post-application monitoring period.


The greater adoption of shank-injection fumigation will immediately aid in reducing bystander inhalation exposure to MITC, especially in high-soil-fumigation regions existing at the rural–urban interface.© 2012 Society of Chemical Industry