Persistence and runoff losses of 3 herbicides and chlorpyrifos from a corn field in the Lake Balaton watershed of Hungary

Judit Ferenczi, Árpád Ambrus, R. Don Wauchope, Harold R. Sumner

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Corn is intensively cultivated in western Hungary in the basin of Lake Balaton, one of the most important water resources in eastern Europe. Pesticide runoff was measured in 1996 and 1997 from a typical corn field near Zalaegerszeg, Hungary, which drains into the Zala River, an important water source of Lake Balaton. Three herbicides, namely atrazine, acetochlor, and propizochlor, and the insecticide chlorpyrifos were applied to bare soil in a field with 5% slope and soil and runoff water pesticide concentrations were monitored. In 1997, a rainfall-runoff simulation experiment was conducted on a small sub-plot in order to measure pesticide runoff under reasonable worst-case conditions. Under natural rainfall almost all losses occurred in a large runoff event in 1996 one month after application in which 3% of atrazine and 1% of acetochlor was transported off the field. Propizochlor and chlorpyrifos losses in the same event were much lower: 0.2% and < 0.01%, respectively, because of these chemicals' shorter persistence times in near-surface soil. The rainfall simulation produced only trace amounts of losses even though 4.1 cm was applied in 2 hours; the soil was extremely dry and only 0.2 cm runoff occurred containing less than 0.01% of all chemicals applied. The results suggest that intensive use of corn herbicides, which have been found to result in widespread contamination of water resources elsewhere, may be expected to have the same impact in the Balaton watershed depending on the amounts and intensities used in the basin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-224
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part B Pesticides, Food Contaminants, and Agricultural Wastes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 11 2002



  • Acetochlor
  • Atrazine
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Pesticide runoff
  • Propizochlor
  • Simulated rainfall
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Pollution

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