Nitrate Leaching Index

Authored by: Jorge A. Delgado

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Nitrogen inputs contribute to many agricultural benefits, such as maximizing yields, improving product quality, and increasing economic returns for farmers. However, nitrogen inputs also increase the potential for losses of nitrogen via pathways such as nitrate leaching, a pathway that contributes to the off-site transport of nitrogen to surface water and groundwater bodies. Nitrate leaching is a significant pathway for losses, especially in coarser soils that are irrigated, or where large precipitation events occur when there are significant amounts of nitrate in the soil profile. In addition, tile systems have been identified as systems with higher potential for nitrate leaching. A nitrate leaching index is a simple, relatively quick approach (five minutes or less) to conducting a risk assessment of the potential for nitrate leaching. There are several different nitrate leaching indexes that are available. The Nitrogen Index is a new approach to assessing nitrate leaching losses, which not only includes a risk index for nitrate leaching, but also for other nitrogen loss pathways. The Nitrogen Index has been shown to be a new eco-technological approach users can take to quickly assess the risk of nitrate leaching, and the Nitrogen Index has the potential to be used as an effective tool for environmental conservation.

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