Atrazine is widely used to control broadleaf weeds and grasses in corn, sorghum, and sugarcane. Field persistence data published before 1995 showed that the average half-life of atrazine in soil was 66 d, and farmers expect to achieve weed control with a single application for the full season. However, reports of enhanced atrazine degradation in soil from fields that have a history of atrazine applications are increasing. A rapid laboratory assay was developed to screen soils for enhanced atrazine degradation. Soil (50 g) was placed in a 250 ml glass jar and treated with 7.5 ml of water containing atrazine (5 µg ai ml−1) and capped with a Teflon-lined lid. The assay was conducted at room temperature (25 C). Soil subsamples (1.5 to 3 g) were removed at 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 d after treatment and extracted with an equal weight of water (wt/vol). The atrazine in the water extract was assayed with high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). The half-life of atrazine in soils with a history of use was ≤ 1.5 d, whereas the half-life in soils with no history of atrazine use was > 8 d. The advantages of this assay are (1) the ease of set up; (2) the rapidity of extraction, and (3) the simplicity of the quantification of the atrazine.
Nomenclature: Atrazine; corn, Zea mays L; sorghum, Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench; sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum L.