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The objective of this project was to develop practical sampling, measuring and modelling techniques to characterise movement and transformation of nitrates in soil and groundwater at field and regional level. Data generated were used to assess impacts of different agricultural practices on nitrate leaching from the rootzone. Criteria were developed to obtain standard datasets for model testing and evaluation, including nitrate and ammonia contents in soil, water and crops, inputs and losses of N from the soil-plant system and determination of the water balance. Nine models for simulation of water and nitrate movement in soil were examined according to criteria established as part of project activities. Satisfactory leaching figures for nitrates from the rootzone were obtained although it was still difficult to simulate the separation nitrification, mineralisation, denitrification and uptake processes. Groundwater studies have concentrated on predicting nitrate levels in the groundwater as a function of pumping strategies and land management schemes. A statistical procedure was developed to predict loading rates into the aquifer from the unsaturated zone as a function of soil type and land use. Two new physical measurement techniques were developed and tested: the suction crust infiltrometer for measuring permeability and the measurement of bypass flow for clay soils with large pores. Application of these techniques led to the derivation of optimal sampling schemes.

Additional information

Authors: CEC, CEC Bruxelles (BE)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 13501 EN (1991) 544 pp., FS, ECU 42.50
Availability: (2)
ISBN: ISBN 92-826-2757-8
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