In an effort to improve water quality in Chesapeake Bay, agricultural practices are being promoted that are intended to reduce contaminant transport to the Bay. 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. At the study site in the Piedmont Province, nitrogen load in ground water decreased from 12 to 6 (lb/acre)/yr (pound per acre per year) as corn under no-till cultivation was replaced by no-till soybeans, continuous alfalfa, and contoured strip crops alternated among corn, alfalfa, and soybeans. At the study site in the Coastal Plain Province, no-till soybeans resulted in a nitrogen load in ground water of 12.55 (lb/acre)/yr, whereas conventional-till soybeans resulted in a nitrogen load in ground water of 11.51 (lb/acre)/yr.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
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