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Summer Cover Crops Reduce Atrazine Leaching to Shallow Groundwater in Southern Florida

At Florida’s southeastern tip, sweet corn (Zea Mays) is grown commercially during winter months. Most fi elds are treated with atrazine (6-chloro-N-ethyl-N’-[1-methylethyl]-1,3,5-triazine2,4-diamine). Hydrogeologic conditions indicate a potential for shallow groundwater contamination. Th is was investigated by measuring the parent compound and three degradates—DEA (6-chloro-N-[1-methylethyl]-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine), DIA (6-chloro-N-ethyl)-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine, and HA (6hydroxy-N-[1-methylethyl]-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine)—in water samples collected beneath sweet corn plots treated annually with the herbicide. During the study, a potential mitigation measure (i.e., the use of a cover crop, Sunn Hemp [Crotalaria juncea L.], during summer fallow periods followed by chopping and turning the crop into soil before planting the next crop) was evaluated.

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