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Ground-water flow, geochemistry, and effects of agricultural practices on nitrogen transport at study sites in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain physiographic provinces, Patuxent River Basin, Maryland

Open-File Report 94-507

Prepared in cooperation with the Maryland Department of the Environment
By:

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Abstract

The effects of agricultural practices on nitrogen transport were assessed at two 10-acre study sites in the Patuxent River Basin, Maryland, during 1986- 92. Nitrogen load was larger in ground water than in surface runoff at both sites. Denitrification and (or) long traveltimes of ground water at the study site in the Piedmont Province resulted in lower concentrations of nitrate than at the site in the Coastal Plain Province. The study period was brief compared to traveltimes of nitrogen in ground water of several decades. Therefore, the effects of agricultural practices were observed only in parts of both sites.


At the Piedmont site, nitrate concentration in two springs was 7 mg/L (milligrams per liter) two years after corn was grown under no-till cultivation, and decreased to 3.5 mg/L during 4 years while cultivation practices and crops included no-till soybeans, continuous alfalfa, and contoured strips alternated among corn, alfalfa, and soybeans. Nitrogen load in ground water decreased from 12 to 6 (lb/acre)/yr (pounds per acre per year).


At the Coastal Plain site, the concentration of nitrate in ground water decreased from 10 mg/L after soybeans were grown under no-till cultivation for 2 years, to 9 mg/L after soybeans were grown under conventional till cultivation for 3 years. No-till cultivation in 1988 resulted in a greater nitrogen load in ground water (12.55 (lbs/acre)/yr), as well as greater ground-water recharge and discharge, than conventional till cultivation in 1991 (11.51 (lbs/ acre)/yr), even though the amount and timing of precipitation for both years were similar.

Study Area

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Ground-water flow, geochemistry, and effects of agricultural practices on nitrogen transport at study sites in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain physiographic provinces, Patuxent River Basin, Maryland
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
94-507
Year Published:
1995
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Towson, MD
Description:
v, 78 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Maryl
Other Geospatial:
Coastal Plain Province;Patuxent River Basin;Piedmont Province