Effects of the implementation of nutrient management practices on ground-water quality were studied at a 55-acre farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, from 1985-90. After nutrient management practices were implemented at the site in October 1986, statistically significant decreases (Wilcoxon Mann-Whitney test) in median nitrate concentrations in ground-water samples occurred at four of the five wells monitored. The largest decreases in nitrate concentration occurred in samples collected at the wells that had the largest nitrate concentrations prior to nutrient management. The decreases in median nitrate concentrations in ground-water samples ranged from 8 to 32 percent of the median concentrations prior to nutrient management and corresponded to nitrogen application decreases of 39 to 67 percent in contributing areas that were defined upgradient of these wells. Changes in nitrogen applications to the contributing areas of five water wells were correlated (Spearman rank-sum test) with nitrate concentrations of the well water. Changes in ground-water nitrate concentrations lagged behind the changes in applied-nitrogen fertilizers (primarily manure) by approximately 4 to 19 months.
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Effects of nutrient management on nitrate levels in ground water near Ephrata Pennsylvania