Triazine Herbicides & Pesticides

Instructor: Korry Barnes

Korry has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and teaches college chemistry courses.

How are bugs and pests kept away from crops? In this lesson we will be learning about triazine-containing herbicides and pesticides, which are important to both the industrial farmer and residential gardener.

Protecting those Plants

Have you ever done any home-gardening like growing tomato plants, and you walk outside one day to find they've been infected by bugs or bacteria? There's nothing more frustrating than trying to grow your own produce only to have pests or pathogens destroy them. This is especially true for farmers who depend on healthy crops to sell commercially to provide financially for their families.

Have you ever wondered how farmers protect their plants? They depend heavily on various herbicides and pesticides to treat their crops and keep them protected against pests and bacteria. One of the most widely used types of pesticides and herbicides are those that contain the triazine scaffold, which is the subject of our current lesson. Let's protect the crops!

What is Triazine?

Let's get started with first introducing ourselves to triazine itself. Triazines are a class of aromatic nitrogen-containing heterocyclic compounds that contain three nitrogen atoms within the ring system and three carbon atoms. The reason they are called heterocyclic is because the ring contains atoms other than carbon. Triazines can exist in one of three isomeric forms, with the difference between them simply being the placement of the nitrogen atoms relative to one another within the ring.

Triazine isomers that differ from one another by the placement of the nitrogen atoms

Triazine herbicides and pesticides are simply compounds that contain one of the three triazine isomers as part of their core structure.

Examples of Triazine Herbicides and Pesticides

Now that we're familiar with triazine itself, let's shift our attention to talking about some important derivatives that contain the triazine structural group that are used in the application of herbicides and pesticides.


Simazine is an example of a triazine herbicide that's most commonly used against a broad range of weeds and grasses that pop up annually. Simazine contains a 1,3,5-triazine ring and also has a chlorine atom and two other nitrogen-based side chains bonded to the triazine ring itself.

Simazine is a triazine herbicide used to prevent a broad range of weeds and grasses from growing

Simazine is widely used in the United States but has been banned from use in European Union states due to toxicity concerns. This compound does its job by inhibiting the process of photosynthesis, an important biological process which plants depend upon for growth and development. Depending on soil and environmental conditions simazine can remain active in the ground for as long as seven months.


Atrazine is another 1,3,5-triazine-containing compound that is typically used for keeping weeds away from crops like corn and sugarcane, but it also finds use on golf courses and on residential lawns as well. Atrazine is structurally similar to simazine in that it also contains a chlorine atom, however it contains a different side chain bonded to one of the nitrogen atoms.

Atrazine is another example of a 1,3,5-triazne herbicide

Atrazine is a very popular compound and as of 2014 was the second most widely-used herbicide in the United States, even though it has been the subject of controversy due to concerns about its toxicity and environmental effects.

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