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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS TO SUSTAIN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS Title: A standardized approach for estimating the permeability of plastic films to soil fumigants under various field and environmental conditions

Authors
item Papiernik, Sharon
item Yates, Scott
item Chellemi, Daniel

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 22, 2010
Publication Date: August 26, 2011
Citation: Papiernik, S.K., Yates, S.R., Chellemi, D.O. 2011. A standardized approach for estimating the permeability of plastic films to soil fumigants under various field and environmental conditions. Journal of Environmental Quality. 40:1375-1382.

Interpretive Summary: Soil fumigants are used to control a broad range of soil-borne pests and diseases in many high-value horticultural crops. Minimizing atmospheric emissions of soil fumigants is critical for protecting human and environmental health. Covering the soil surface with a plastic tarp is a common approach to restrict fumigant emissions. The transfer of the fumigant vapors through the tarp is an important factor in fumigant emissions. In this paper, we present an approach for standardizing measurements of film permeability. This method is based upon determining the resistance (R) of films to diffusion of fumigants. We determined R values for more than 200 film-chemical combinations under a range of temperature, relative humidity, and film handling conditions. Values of R were specific for each fumigant/film combination with the largest range observed for the fumigant chloropicrin. Changes in film permeability due to increases in temperature or field installation were generally less than a factor of five. For one film, R values determined under conditions of very high relative humidity were at least 100 times lower than when humidity was very low. This approach simplifies the selection of appropriate films for soil fumigation by providing rapid, reproducible, and precise measurements of their permeability to specific fumigants and application conditions. These results are critical to the reliable prediction of fumigant volatilization. These results will be used to develop improved soil fumigation practices and regulations that result in adequate pest-control efficacy and minimize contamination of air and water by fumigant pesticides.

Technical Abstract: Minimizing atmospheric emissions of soil fumigants is critical for protecting human and environmental health. Covering the soil surface with a plastic tarp is a common approach to restrict fumigant emissions. The mass transfer of the fumigant vapors through the tarp is often the rate-limiting factor in fumigant emissions. An approach for standardizing measurements of film permeability is proposed that is based upon determining the resistance (R) of films to diffusion of fumigants. Using this approach, R values were determined for more than 200 film-chemical combinations under a range of temperature, relative humidity, and film handling conditions. Resistance to diffusion was specific for each fumigant/film combination with the largest range of values observed for the fumigant chloropicrin. For each fumigant, R decreased with increasing temperature. Changes in film permeability due to increases in temperature or field installation were generally less than a factor of five. For one film, R values determined under conditions of very high relative humidity (~100%) were at least 100 times lower than when humidity was very low (~2%). This approach simplifies the selection of appropriate films for soil fumigation by providing rapid, reproducible, and precise measurements of their permeability to specific fumigants and application conditions.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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