Adsorption, degradation, and movement are the key processes conditioning the behavior and fate of pesticides in the soil. Six processes that can move pesticides are leaching, diffusion, volatilization, erosion and run-off, assimilation by microorganisms, and plant uptake. Leaching is the vertical downward displacement of pesticides through the soil profile and the unsaturated zone, and finally to groundwater, which is vulnerable to pollution. Pesticides are frequently leached through the soil by the effect of rain or irrigation water. Pesticide leaching is highest for weakly sorbing and/or persistent compounds, climates with high precipitation and low temperatures, and soils with low organic matter and sandy texture. On the contrary, for pesticides with a low persistence that disappear quickly, the risk of groundwater pollution considerably decreases. Different and varied factors such as physical-chemical properties of the pesticide, a permeability of the soil, texture and organic matter content of the soil, volatilization, crop-root uptake, and method and dose of pesticide application are responsible for the leaching rate of the pesticides. Soils that are high in clays and organic matter will slow the movement of water, attach easily to many pesticides, and generally have a higher diversity and population of soil organisms that can metabolize the pesticides.
Part of the book: Pesticides