Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 964–972 | Cite as

Assessment of the retardation of selected herbicides onto Danube sediment based on small column tests

  • Anita Leovac MaćerakEmail author
  • Ivana Ivančev-Tumbas
  • Hilmar Börnick
  • Gordana Ilić
  • Marijana Kragulj Isakovski
  • Snežana Maletić
Sediments, Sec 1 • Sediment Quality and Impact Assessment • Research Article



This study utilizes column tests to investigate the retardation of certain herbicides with different hydrophobicities (atrazine, alachlor and trifluralin) during transport through surface Danube sediment. The influence of water matrix on the retardation factor Rd and Freundlich constant Kf is investigated. The results are compared with batch tests to establish whether different methodologies result in similar or different conclusions.

Materials and methods

A stainless steel column was filled with natural Danube sediment. Three water matrices were investigated: synthetic, Danube surface, and deep groundwater rich in natural organic matter (NOM). The goal was to examine whether different water matrices would result in changes in the Rd and corresponding Kf values. After a tracer experiment, single herbicide solutions were tested in the three water matrices. Herbicides were analyzed by gas chromatography coupled with electron capture detector (GC/ECD). Retardation factors obtained in the column experiments were calculated using Transmod software (version 2.2). The Kf values calculated were compared with the values obtained in previous batch experiments.

Results and discussion

A breakthrough curve (BTC) for trifluralin could not be obtained during the experiment. Atrazine Rd values were almost the same in the natural matrices (54 and 55 for the ground and surface waters, respectively), and lower in the synthetic water (40). Alachlor Rd values in the three water matrices were very similar (30–35). The corresponding Kf values for alachlor (8.47–17.4) were lower than those of atrazine (13.5–27.9). These results differ from those obtained by earlier batch tests, which showed similar Kf values for both atrazine (4.4–9.2) and alachlor (4.43–10.35) in all three matrices. In contrast to the results observed during the batch tests, the column tests exhibited higher Kf values in the natural water matrices than the synthetic water, possibly due to the influence of dissolved organic carbon on herbicide sorption.


Of the three herbicides investigated, the smallest retardation was observed for alachlor. This was unexpected given the relative hydrophobicities of alachlor and atrazine. The potential risk of transport through the sediment may therefore be greater for alachlor than the other two herbicides. This was indicated neither by the batch tests nor from the KocKow estimations. Both herbicides exhibited similar Kd and Kf values in the batch tests, and lower values in the natural water matrices. In comparison, the column tests showed higher Kf values, with higher values in the natural matrices than in the synthetic water matrix.


Column experiments Geosorption Herbicides River sediment Transport of organic pollutants 


Funding information

The research was financed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia within the project OI 172028.

Supplementary material

11368_2018_2084_MOESM1_ESM.docx (32 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 32.2 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Leovac Maćerak
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ivana Ivančev-Tumbas
    • 1
  • Hilmar Börnick
    • 2
  • Gordana Ilić
    • 3
  • Marijana Kragulj Isakovski
    • 1
  • Snežana Maletić
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Sciences, Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Environmental ProtectionUniversity of Novi SadNovi SadSerbia
  2. 2.Institute of Water ChemistryDresden University of TechnologyDresdenGermany
  3. 3.School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Division of Chemistry and Biological ChemistryNanyang Technological University21 Nanyang LinkSingapore

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