Tackling Nitrates in Groundwater

Tackling Nitrates in Groundwater May 9, 2019

Nitrate contamination in groundwater was the focus of several recent articles published on Nebraska Extension's Water.unl.edu website.

The issue of managing nitrates both before and after they reach groundwater requires changing nitrogen management practices on the farm, in the field, and in our yards. There's no silver bullet or quick solution for a problem that has built up over decades, but education and management changes initiated now will help protect our water resources for future generations.

If you would like to receive future articles on nitrates and groundwater or other Nebraska Extension water quality and quantity issues, you can sign up and designate the specific water topics of interest at https://water.unl.edu/newsletter.

Learn more about nitrates in Nebraska's groundwater in the following articles.

Why Does Groundwater Nitrate Vary So Much Across the State

Example of groundwater nitrate variability in Nebraska

Have you ever wondered why groundwater nitrate maps show so much variation across Nebraska? Or why wells near your own tested well have such different nitrate levels? The answer has three parts. Nitrate in groundwater varies from place to place. In the following, we’ll break down those three pieces and explain how they affect nitrate levels. Read More...

Manure Reduces Nitrate Losses to Water in Iowa Study

Iowa State University researchers concluded from a long-term field study that poultry manure, when applied at a rate to meet the crop nitrogen (N) requirements, can reduce nitrate loss and achieve equal or better yields in corn soybean production systems. While this research focused on nitrate (NO­3-N) loss by field-tile drains (typically placed 3 to 6 feet deep), similar trends would be anticipated in Nebraska for nitrate leaching below the crop root zone and the eventual impacts on surface and ground water quality. Read More...

How Can Nitrogen Budgeting Estimate Nitrate-N Loading to Groundwater

Nitrogen (N) budgeting, where accounting principles are applied to measured quantities of individual N sources, is one tool for understanding how long-term fertilizer-N use and irrigation contributes to nitrogen leaching. Here, we explore this tool by going through commonly-used conversions and calculations for N supply and nitrate-N leaching to account for changes in aquifer nitrogen contamination. Read More...

Lawns, Fertilization and Surface Water

During the lawn fertilization season, use responsible practices to help keep nutrients out of streams, rivers ponds, and lakes. For those who live in town, it is important to know that most curbs and storm sewer systems drain directly into surface water. As rainwater flows over surfaces like pavement and bare soil, it collects materials such as soil, plant and animal waste and fertilizers, which contribute nutrients to surface waters. Read More...