• drainflow;
  • preferential flow;
  • soil structure;
  • pesticide;
  • bromide;
  • lysimeter


Twelve lysimeters with a surface area of 0.5 m2 and a length of 60 cm were taken over mole drains from a Denchworth heavy clay soil and divided into two groups with either a standard agricultural tilth or a finer topsoil tilth. The influence of topsoil tilth on leaching of the herbicide isoproturon and a bromide tracer was evaluated over a winter season. The effect of variations in soil moisture status in the immediate topsoil on leaching of isoproturon, chlorotoluron and linuron was investigated in the following winter season. Here, water inputs were controlled such that lysimeters received 50 mm at a maximum intensity of 2 mm h−1 over a 4-week period with herbicides applied on day 15. Three treatments received the water either all prior to application, all after application, or evenly spread over the 4-week period. Leaching losses of the three herbicides were monitored for a subsequent drainage event. Analysis of covariance showed a significant effect of topsoil tilth and total flow on both the maximum concentrations (P  = 0.034) and total losses (P  = 0.012) of isoproturon in drainflow. Both concentrations and losses were c 35% smaller from lysimeters with the finer tilth. However, generation of the fine tilth in the field was restricted by a wet autumn and this is not considered a reliable management option for reducing pesticide losses from heavy clay soils. In the second experiment, variation in soil moisture content prior to and after application did not have any significant effect (P < 0.05) upon subsequent losses of the three herbicides to drains.

© 2001 Society of Chemical Industry