Agriculture Land Use and Its Effect on Nitrogen Contamination of Surface Water and Groundwater

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Soil and Water".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2023) | Viewed by 1308

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Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
Interests: water quality; irrigation; drainage; wastewater reuse; agriculture waste management; renewable energy
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s water, and nitrates from agriculture are a major source of groundwater contamination worldwide. It has been 30 years since the European Nitrate Initiative was established, and little progress has been made in many places in Europe toward lowering the concentration of nitrates. China is the largest user of nitrogen fertilizer in the world, and 60 percent of their groundwater is polluted. Groundwater nitrate pollution in the U.S. caused by agriculture has been reported in the literature since the 1970s. Many programs have been developed for farmers to implement best management practices (BMPs). There is still a need to measure the effectiveness of some BMPs, and more implementation of BMPs are needed for agriculture land in some areas. Since the 1950s, the formation of a large hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico has been caused by nutrient discharges from the Mississippi River, which drains 41 percent of land in the U.S. Agriculture is the largest source of nitrate discharge with most nitrates coming from subsurface drainage in the Midwest states.

For this Special Issue, entitled “ Agriculture Land Use and Its Effect on Nitrogen Contamination of Surface Water and Groundwater”, we are looking for case studies, long-term monitoring studies, the adoption of new technology, regulatory policies and the development of sustainable land use practices in order to solve this problem from a worldwide prospective and contribute new information to the literature.

Prof. Dr. William Frederick Ritter
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • nitrates
  • best management practices
  • irrigation
  • drainage
  • precision agriculture
  • nutrient management

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Research

23 pages, 13088 KiB  
Article
Assessing and Mapping the Environmental Impacts of Best Management Practices in Nitrate-Vulnerable Areas
by Miha Curk and Matjaž Glavan
Water 2023, 15(13), 2364; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15132364 - 27 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1018
Abstract
This investigation explores the impact of various management practices on nitrate leaching and crop yield in two specific areas in Slovenia. The issue of nitrate leaching from agricultural land is a worldwide threat to drinking water, and despite years of research efforts, universal [...] Read more.
This investigation explores the impact of various management practices on nitrate leaching and crop yield in two specific areas in Slovenia. The issue of nitrate leaching from agricultural land is a worldwide threat to drinking water, and despite years of research efforts, universal solutions are still unknown. The two chosen study sites are significant because of their importance for agricultural production and because groundwater aquifers beneath are main sources of drinking water, which makes imposing mitigation measures challenging. One of the areas was reported to be of “bad” status according to the Water Framework Directive criteria, while the other is at risk of reaching this status if nitrate concentrations in groundwater continue to rise. This research used the SWAT model to simulate nitrate leaching and crop yield changes under different agricultural scenarios on different soil types. It aimed to accomplish two objectives: first, to identify parts of the case study areas where the existing combination of soil conditions and agricultural practices enables a high potential for nitrate leaching; second, to identify agricultural practices that decrease nitrate leaching from various soil types while maintaining crop yields in each area. By identifying the most vulnerable locations and the most promising practices, we generated a chart of best management practices for specific soil types as a guide that extension services can use to advise farmers on potential management improvements. The main findings demonstrate that reducing fertilizer application, both organic and inorganic, in areas where the rates exceed crop requirements may not have a significant impact on crop production. However, these reductions often resulted in a noticeable decrease in nitrate exports. The results also showed that soil type is crucially important and should always be considered when evaluating the effects of agricultural management on crop yields and nitrate leaching. Full article
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