Simulation of movement of pesticides towards drains with a preferential flow version of PEARL

A. Tiktak, R.F.A. Hendriks, J.J.T.I. Boesten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Background: As part of the Dutch authorisation procedure for pesticides, an assessment of the effects on aquatic organisms in surface waters adjacent to agricultural fields is required. The peak concentration is considered to be the most important exposure endpoint for the ecotoxicological effect assessment. Macropore flow is an important driver for the peak concentration, so the leaching model PEARL was extended with a macropore module. The new model has two macropore domains: a bypass domain and an internal catchment domain. The model was tested against data from a field leaching study on a cracking clay soil in the Netherlands.Results: Most parameters of the model could be obtained from site-specific measurements, pedotransfer functions and general soil structural knowledge; only three macropore-flow-related parameters needed calibration. The flow-related macropore parameters could not be calibrated without using the concentration in drain water. Sequential calibration strategies, in which firstly the water flow model and then the pesticide fate model are calibrated, may therefore be less suitable for preferential flow models.Conclusion: After calibration, PEARL could simulate well the observed rapid movement towards drains of two pesticides with contrasting sorption and degradation rate properties. The calibrated value for the fraction of the internal catchment domain was high (90%). This means that a large fraction of water entering the macropores infiltrates into the soil matrix, thus reducing the fraction of rapid flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-302
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • dutch clay soil
  • unsaturated soils
  • solute transport
  • macropore flow
  • water-flow
  • sandy soil
  • model
  • infiltration
  • rainfall
  • bromide


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