Pesticide sorption by soil is among the most sensitive input parameters in many pesticide-leaching models. For many pesticides, organic matter is the most important soil constituent influencing pesticide sorption. Increased fertility, irrigation, and mowing associated with highly maintained turfgrass areas result in constant deposition of organic material, creating a soil system that can change drastically with time. Changes in soil characteristics could affect the environmental fate of pesticides applied to turfgrass systems of varying ages. Sorption characteristics of simazine and S-metolachlor were determined on five soils from bermudagrass systems of increasing ages (1, 4, 10, 21, and 99 yr) and compared to adjacent native pine and bare-ground areas. Surface soil (0 to 5 cm) and subsurface soil (5 to 15 cm) from all sites were air-dried and passed through a 4-mm sieve for separation from plant material. Using a batch-equilibrium method, sorption isotherms were determined for each soil. Data were fit to the Freundlich equation, and Kd (soil sorption coefficient) and Koc (organic carbon sorption coefficient) values were determined. Sorption and soil system age were directly related to organic matter content in the soil. Sorption of both herbicides increased with age of the soil system and was greatest on the surface soil from the oldest bermudagrass soil system. Herbicide sorption decreased at greater soil depths with lower organic matter. Greater amount of 14C–simazine sorbed to subsurface soil of the oldest turfgrass system compared to 14C–S-metolachlor. Results indicate that as bermudagrass systems age and accumulate higher organic matter levels increased herbicide sorption may decrease the leaching potential and bioavailability of simazine and S-metolachlor.
Nomenclature: Simazine; S-metolachlor; bermudagrass; Cynodon dactylon [(L.) Pers.].