Nitrogen can present a dilemma for farmers and land managers.
On one hand, it is an essential nutrient for crops.
However, excess nitrogen in fertilizers can enter groundwater and pollute aquatic systems. This nitrogen, usually in the form of nitrate, can cause algal blooms. Microbes that decompose these algae can ultimately remove oxygen from water bodies, causing dead zones and fish kills.
In a new study, researchers have identified nitrate removal hotspots in landscapes around agricultural streams.
“Understanding where nitrate removal is highest can inform management of agricultural streams,” says Molly Welsh, lead author of the study. “This information can help us improve water quality more effectively.”
Welsh is a graduate student at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She studied four streams in northwestern North Carolina. The streams showed a range of degradation and restoration activity. One of the streams had been restored. Two others were next to agricultural lands. The fourth site had agricultural activity in an upstream area.
Continue reading at American Society of Agronomy
Image via Molly Welsh, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry