Clays, Clay Minerals, and Pesticides

S. Nir, Y. El-Nahhal, T. Undabeytia, G. Rytwo, T. Polubesova, Y. Mishael, O. Rabinovitz, B. Rubin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Design and test of clay-based formulations of pesticides for solving environmental and economical problems are described. Organoclays were mainly designed to promote the adsorption of neutral and hydrophobic pesticides and slow their release. Adsorption of organic cations modifies the nature of the clay mineral surface, transforming it from hydrophilic to hydrophobic. The modified clay mineral surface can have enhanced affinity for adsorbing neutral organic molecules of hydrophobic characteristics. The adsorption of the hydrophobic herbicides alachlor, metolachlor norflurazon, and acetochlor, which include a phenyl ring, was maximal for montmorillonite preadsorbed by a small cation, for example, phenyl trimethylammonium at a loading corresponding to 5/8 of the cation-exchange capacity (CEC). Loading of the organic cations above the CEC of the clay can promote the adsorption of certain anionic herbicides, such as imazaquin. Reduction of volatilization and photodegradation of herbicides was also achieved by certain organoclay formulations. In certain cases, an organic cation adsorbed on the clay mineral can act as an energy acceptor of the photoexcited molecule of the pesticide, which returns to its ground state before its photodecomposition occurs, thus becoming photostabilized. Clay mineral–micelle and –liposome formulations were introduced for obtaining slow release formulations of certain anionic herbicides, which could not be achieved by organoclay ones. The procedure involves incubation of the clay mineral with organic cations, which are mostly in micelles or liposomes. The complex formed between ODTMA (octadecyl trimethylammonium) and montmorillonite in the presence of excess of micelles is very different from the complex formed in the exclusive presence of ODTMA monomers, as shown by electron microscopy, XRD, and adsorption measurements. Unlike the monomer–clay mineral complex, which was not efficient for the adsorption of anionic organic molecules, such as sulfometuron, the micelle–clay mineral complex was highly efficient. Liposome–clay mineral formulations were prepared by employing the positively charged didodecylammonium and the neutral and EPA approved phosphatidylcholine. Efforts to develop slow release formulations also focused on encapsulation of herbicides in clay mineral polymer nanocomposites. The efficacy of the bypiridil herbicides paraquat (PQ) and diquat (DQ), which are divalent organic cations, used for post-emergence weed control was enhanced by addition to the herbicide formulation of monovalent organic cations which could compete for adsorption to the dust with DQ and PQ, thus making them more available for herbicidal activity.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationDevelopments in Clay Science
Place of PublicationAmsterdam, The Netherlands
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780080993645
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Clay Science
ISSN (Print)1572-4352


  • Adsorption
  • Clay polymer nanaocomposite
  • Herbicide formulations
  • Liposome–clay mineral
  • Micelle–clay mineral formulations
  • Octadecyl trimethylammonium
  • Organoclay formulations
  • Photostabilization
  • Slow release formulations
  • Volatilization


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