Laboratory column displacement experiments were performed to examine whether addition of pesticide-primed material to the matrix of an on-farm biopurification system (BPS), intended to remove pesticides from agricultural waste water, positively affects the degradation of mobile pesticides in the system. Percolated column microcosms with varying types and amounts of metalaxyl and/or isoproturon-primed material or non-primed material were irrigated with water artificially contaminated with isoproturon and/or metalaxyl. Transport of isoproturon was well described using the convection dispersion equation and no dissipation was observed, even in columns inoculated with isoproturon-primed material. On the other hand, delayed dissipation of metalaxyl, i.e., after an initial lag phase, was encountered in all columns receiving metalaxyl. in all systems, dissipation could be described using the Monod model indicating that a metalaxyl degrading population grew in the systems. There was a clear correlation between the lag phase and the amount of metalaxyl-primed material added to the system, i.e., increasing amounts of added material resulted into shorter lag phases and hence more rapid initiation of growth-associated metalaxyl degradation in the system. Our observations suggest that indeed pesticide-primed material can reduce the start-up phase of degradation of mobile pesticides in a BPS and as such can increase its efficiency. However, the primed material should be chosen carefully and preferentially beforehand tested for its capacity to degrade the pesticide. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.