NC State Extension Publications


While research has shown that pollution of surface and groundwater supplies from turfgrass pesticide application is uncommon, the turf manager should still strive to avoid potential environmental contamination when choosing a pesticide. Unfortunately, there is little information available to aid in choosing a chemical control based upon minimizing potential leaching. Although several computer models exist to evaluate leaching potential, they are difficult to use and require extensive training. In an effort to provide a relatively simple method for identifying pesticides with the least potential for contaminating groundwater, R.L. Warren and J.B. Weber of NC State University have developed a pesticide ranking system known as the Pesticide Leaching Potential (PLP) Index. The index uses several pesticide characteristics to estimate potential leaching to groundwater. These characteristics include the ability to bind to soil organic matter, time required for the pesticide to degrade (persistence), rate of application, and the amount of an application that actually penetrates the turf canopy and reaches the soil.

The PLP index for various turfgrass pesticides labeled for use in North Carolina can be found below. The index is based on a scale of 0 - 100 with a higher number indicating an increased likelihood for leaching. For example, a rating of 5 would indicate that a material had a very low potential for leaching while a pesticide with a PLP index of 95 would have a very high probability for leaching and should be avoided, especially in environmentally sensitive areas.

It is important to note that the PLP index is determined primarily based on characteristics of the pesticide and that other factors in the turfgrass ecosystem also influence leaching potential. Potential leaching into groundwater is also affected by soil pH, soil type, photo decomposition (degradation by sunlight), microbial decomposition, volatilization (pesticide evaporation), and other factors.

To minimize leaching potential, it is generally best to choose pesticides which have a low PLP index when possible. If two possible pesticide choices have a similar PLP index (within 5 points of each other) their leaching potential is fairly similar. As a rough guideline, materials having a PLP index less than 40 would have a low leaching potential while a PLP index greater than 70 would indicate that potential leaching was a concern. Also, pesticides are more likely to leach in soils which are sandy, low in organic matter, and which have a pH of 6.0 or greater.

You should also keep in mind that leaching is only one of many considerations in selecting a pesticide. There will be some instances where a pesticide exhibits low leaching potential but because of its high potential toxicity to wildlife, such as fish, extra precautions may be necessary around water. These precautions should be mentioned on the label.

Choosing pesticides with low leaching potential is only one of many techniques available to turfgrass managers to help protect water quality.

Pesticide Leaching Potential Index

Table 1. Herbicides.
Common Name Trade Name Rate* Index**
Fenoxaprop Acclaim 0.18 0
Prodiamine Barricade 0.75 1
Diclofop Illoxan 1.50 10
Pendimethalin Pre-M 3.00 18
Dithiopyr Dimension 0.50 20
Metolachlor Pennant 4.00 22
Sethoxydim Vantage 0.28 26
MSMA MSMA 3.00 27
Trifluralin Treflan 3.00 32
Pronamide Kerb 1.50 34
Glyphosate Roundup 4.00 36
Oxadiazon Ronstar 3.00 36
Benefin Balan 3.00 36
Bentazon Basagran 2.00 36
DCPA Dacthal 10.50 38
Ethofumasate Prograss 1.00 41
2,4-D 2,4-D 0.75 41
DSMA Methar 5.00 41
Metsulfuron DMC 0.10 42
Isoxaben Gallery 1.00 44
Bensulide Betasan 10.00 44
Oryzalin Surflan 3.00 44
Napropamide Devrinol 3.00 46
Asulam Asulox 2.00 47
Metribuzin Sencor 0.50 48
Atrazine Aatrex 2.00 52
Triclopyr Turflon 2.00 53
Simazine Princep 2.00 54
Dicambia Banvel 0.50 54
Imazaquin Image 0.50 58
Mecoprop MCPP 1.75 61
Siduron Tupersan 10.00 64
* Maximum recommended application rate (lb A.I./Acre)
** Pesticide Leaching Potential Index (0 - 100) where 0 = very low leaching potential and 100 = very high leaching potential.

Table 2. Fungicides.
Common Name Trade Name Rate* Index**
Vinclozolin Curlan 2.70 20
Fosetyl-Al Aliette 17.40 25
Thiophanate methyl Clearys 3336 2.70 31
Anilazine Dyrene 5.40 31
Iprodione Chipco 2.50 33
Mancozeb Fore 8.70 36
Triadmimefon Bayleton 1.30 43
Propiconazole Banner 1.50 45
Chlorothalonil Daconil 19.60 46
Metalaxyl Subdue 1.36 50
Propamocarb Banol 7.24 51
Fenarimol Rubigan 2.00 51
Chloroneb Terraneb 7.00 51
Benomyl Tersan 2.70 55
Maneb Manzate 13.00 56
Etridiazole Koban 6.50 65
* Maximum recommended application rate (lb A.I./Acre)
** Pesticide Leaching Potential Index (0 - 100) where 0 = very low leaching potential and 100 = very high leaching potential.

Table 3. Insecticides.
Common Name Trade Name Rate* Index**
Cyfluthrin Tempo 0.09 0
Permetrin Astro 0.90 12
Fenoxycarb Award 1.50 19
Chlorpyrifos Dursban 1.00 19
Fenamiphos Nemacur 10.00 36
Acephate Orthene 3.00 36
Fonofos Crusade 3.90 37
Bendiocarb Turcam 4.10 38
Carbaryl Sevin 2.10 39
Diazinon Diazinon 4.30 41
Isofenphos Oftanol 1.90 44
Isazofos Triumph 2.00 44
Methomyl Lannate 1.90 51
Trichlorfon Proxol 8.16 52
Ethoprop Mocap 4.90 55
Propoxur Baygon 8.10 76
* Maximum recommended application rate (lb A.I./Acre)
** Pesticide Leaching Potential Index (0 - 100) where 0 = very low leaching potential and 100 = very high leaching potential.


Professor Emeritus
Crop and Soil Sciences
Turfgrass Research and Teaching
Extension Specialist
Entomology and Plant Pathology

Publication date: Dec. 1, 2000

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