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Nitrate Reduction Through Controlled Drainage & Nutrient Management Plans

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  052236,  2005 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.19041) @2005
Authors:   Heather L. Smeltz, Robert O. Evans, Deanna L. Osmond, Gregory D. Jennings
Keywords:   Controlled drainage, DRAINMOD-N, nitrate management plan, nitrate reduction

The Core Creek Project implemented and evaluated best management practices (BMPs) throughout the upper watershed to reduce nutrient loading to the Neuse River. A portion of the Core Creek Project evaluated the reduction of nitrate (NO3-N) leaving the Core Creek watershed due to the implementation of controlled drainage and nutrient management plans. DRAINMOD-N was calibrated and extrapolated on a field-by-field basis to predict long-term hydrology and nitrate losses based on BMPs implemented and crops grown throughout the watershed.

Predicted NO3-N reduction was most effectively accomplished when controlled drainage and a nitrogen management plan were used in conjunction with one another. If implemented separately, a nitrogen management plan was predicted to be more effective than controlled drainage alone. The cropping system also impacted the drainage rate and nitrate loss from the fields. Potentially, a 30% and 75% nitrate reduction can be achieved growing cotton or soybeans, respectively, as compared to corn. Controlled drainage reduced the drainage outflow by 6.8 centimeters (21.3%) annually, compared to conventional drainage. This flow reduction accounted for 11.5% of the NO3-N reduction leaving the watershed.

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