022 Delivery of Gases to the Soil Matrix via Buried Drip Irrigation Tubing

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  • 1 University of California Cooperative Extension, 1031 S. Mt. Vernon, Bakersfield, CA 93307
  • | 2 Dept. of Nematology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521
  • | 3 Dept. of Horticulture, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011

The impending worldwide restrictions on the use of methyl bromide (MeBr) as a soil fumigant have prompted an intensive search for more-effective methods for delivering MeBr or replacement compounds. Although the majority of agrochemicals are applied in the solid phase or the liquid phase at ambient pressure and temperature, some chemicals, including certain soil fumigants such as MeBr, are gases under normal field conditions. Experiments were conducted to evaluate use of two types of commercial drip irrigation tubing to deliver gases to nontarped planting beds. Air moved through each tubing type immediately after burial; water was not necessary for inflation. Air was also able to move through 40 m of buried rigid drip tubing and through 90 m of buried flat tape that had been used for subsurface drip irrigation for more than 1 year. Mixtures of known ratios of propane and air were introduced into the buried tubing over several time intervals to evaluate gas movement from buried drip tubing into the surrounding soil matrix. Samples were collected from sets of three soil gas sampling tubes placed 15, 30, and 45 cm to the side of the buried tubing and at regular intervals along the length of the tubing, and propane concentrations were quantified by gas chromatography. Tubing lengths and run times affected the magnitudes and uniformity of propane concentrations. Results suggest gas-phase chemicals can be delivered via buried drip-irrigation tubing, but effective distances from the point of introduction will be limited by the low densities and viscosities of gases, and corresponding high rates of escape through tubing emitters.

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