Plant and Soil

, Volume 291, Issue 1–2, pp 81–92 | Cite as

Leaching of isothiocyanates through intact soil following simulated biofumigation

  • Mette Laegdsmand
  • Anne Louise Gimsing
  • Bjarne W. Strobel
  • Jens Christian Sørensen
  • Ole Hørbye Jacobsen
  • Hans Christian Bruun Hansen
Original Paper


Biofumigation can be used as an alternative to conventional soil fumigation to control soil-borne pests. With biofumigation, plant tissue with a natural content of glucosinolates (cruciferous plants) is damaged and incorporated into the topsoil. When the plant tissue is damaged, the glucosinolates come into contact with the endogenous enzyme myrosinase, which catalyse the hydrolysis of glucosinolates into various products depending on the reaction conditions. Isothiocyanates are among the potential products formed from these reactions. We investigated if the isothiocyanates from rape plant material were leached through the soil to drain depth when a heavy rainstorm followed the biofumigation. We applied isothiocyanates from rape plant material (1,480 μmol m−2) to four large (0.6 m diameter, 1.0 m long) intact soil monoliths from a loamy and a sandy soil and conducted a leaching experiment under semi-field conditions. The soil monoliths were irrigated with 70–90 mm (10 mm h−1) and the concentrations of three isothiocyanates (3-butenyl, 4-pentenyl and 2-phenethyl) were monitored in the leachate. Between 0 and 14.8 mmol isothiocyanates were leached for each mol of isothiocyanates applied during application of 70–90 mm irrigation. The distribution coefficient estimated from leached concentrations was 0.04–1.19 for 3-butenyl, 0.04–1.15 for 4-pentenyl isothiocyanate and 0.037–0.97 for 2-phenethyl isothiocyanate. The concentration of total isothiocyanates in the leachate was in the same order of magnitude as the LD50 of isothiocyanates for sensitive aquatic organisms.


Attenuation Biofumigation Glucosinolate Isothiocyanate Soil Transport 



This work was funded by the Danish Research Councils (Contract no. 23-02-0152). We thank Stig T. Rasmussen, Bodil B. Christensen and Jørgen M. Nielsen for excellent technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mette Laegdsmand
    • 1
  • Anne Louise Gimsing
    • 2
  • Bjarne W. Strobel
    • 2
  • Jens Christian Sørensen
    • 2
  • Ole Hørbye Jacobsen
    • 1
  • Hans Christian Bruun Hansen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AgroecologyDanish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre FoulumTjeleDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Natural SciencesThe Royal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityFrederiksberg CDenmark

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