The Management Systems Evaluation Area (MSEA) program is part of a multi-scale, inter-agency initiative to evaluate the effects of agricultural management systems on water quality in the midwest corn belt. The Minnesota MSEA project is one of five projects selected to represent the principal hydrogeologic settings and geographic diversity of prevailing management systems in the midwest corn belt. The Minnesota MSEA research area is located in the Anoka Sand Plain about 5 kilometers southwest of Princeton, Minnesota. The water-quality monitoring network within the 65-hectare research area consists of 29 observation wells and 22 multiport wells. Thirteen observation wells also are located outside the research area. Anthropogenic effects of previous land use were detected in water samples collected during April 1991, prior to implementation of the MSEA farming systems. Concentrations of nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate-N) in the surficial aquifer equaled or exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recommended maximum contaminant level of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in 4 of the 7 wells in the research area. The maxinxum concentration of nitrate-N in ground water from these wells was 23 mg/L with a median of 10 mg/L. The median concentration of nitrate-N for these wells exceeded the median in wells located upgradient from the research area (2.1 mg/L). Similarly, the median concentration of chloride from wells in the research area (11 mg/L) exceeded the median in upgradient wells (3.8 mg/L). On-site soun:es of the elevated nitrate-N include decomposition of alfalfa, grown on-site during 1981-89, and application of nitrogen fertilizer to corn during 1990. A likely on-site source of the elevated chloride is application of potassium-chloride fertilizer to crops prior to 1991. Atrazine was detected by gas chromatography mass spectroscopy in 2 of the 7 wells in the research area at concentrations of 0.04 and 0.17 micrograms per liter (ug/L), well below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recommended maximum contaminant level of 3 ug/L. The median concentration in these Wells was less than the qualitative detection limit of 0.01 ug/L. Atrazine metabolite de-ethylatrazine was the most frequently detected herbicicle or herbicide metabolite. De-ethylatrazine was detected in 5 of the 7 wells in the research area at concentrations ranging from 0.12 to 0.32 ug/L with a median concentration of 0.14 ug/L. Atrazine metabolite de-isopropylatrazine was not detected above the qualitative detection limit of 0.06 ug/L. The most likely sources of atrazine are applications to the research area during 1990 or from precipitation.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Characterization of the hydrogeology and water quality at the Management Systems Evaluation Area near Princeton, Minnesota, 1991-92
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey ;
USGS Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],