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Nitrogen-isotope ratios of nitrate in ground water under fertilized fields, Long Island, New York

Ground Water

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Abstract

Ground-water samples from two heavily fertilized sites in Suffolk County, New York, were collected through the 1978 growing season and analyzed for nitrate-N concentrations and nitrogen-isotope ratios. Six wells were at a potato farm; six were on a golf course. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the 15N/14N ratios (??15N values) of fertilizer are increased during transit from land surface to ground water to an extent which would preclude use of this ratio to distinguish agricultural from animal sources of nitrate in ground water. Ground water at both sites contained a greater proportion of 15N than the fertilizers being applied. At the potato farm, the average ??15N value of the fertilizers was 0.2???; the average ??15N value of the ground-water nitrate was 6.2???. At the golf course, the average ??15N value of the fertilizers was -5.9???, and that of ground-water nitrate was 6.5???. The higher ??15N values of ground-water nitrate are probably caused by isotopic fractionation during the volatile loss of ammonia from nitrogen applied in reduced forms (NH4+ and organic-N). The ??15N values of most ground-water samples from both areas were less than 10???, the upper limit of the range characteristic of agricultural sources of nitrate; these sources include both fertilizer nitrate and nitrate derived from increased mineralization of soil nitrogen through cultivation. Previous studies have shown that the ??15N values of nitrate derived from human or animal waste generally exceed 10???. The nitrogen-isotope ratios of fertilizer-derived nitrate were not altered to an extent that would make them indistinguishable from animal-waste-derived nitrates in ground water.Ground-water samples from two heavily fertilized sites in Suffolk County, New York, were collected through the 1978 growing season and analyzed for nitrate-N concentrations and nitrogen-isotope ratios. Six wells were at a potato farm; six were on a golf course. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the **1**5N/**1**4N ratios ( delta **1**5N values) of fertilizer are increased during transit from land surface to ground water to an extent which would preclude use of this ratio to distinguish agricultural from animal sources of nitrate in ground water. Ground water at both sites contained a greater proportion of **1**5N than the fertilizers being applied. The nitrogen-isotope ratios of fertilizer-derived nitrate were not altered to an extent that would make them indistinguishable from animal-waste-derived nitrates in ground water.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Nitrogen-isotope ratios of nitrate in ground water under fertilized fields, Long Island, New York
Series title:
Ground Water
Volume
23
Issue:
1
Year Published:
1985
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
59
Last page:
67
Number of Pages:
9