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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nitrate-N and Bromide Breakthrough in a Sprinkler-Irrigated Portneuf Silt Loam

Authors
item Lehrsch, Gary
item Wright, James - RETIRED USDA-ARS EMPLOYEE
item Westermann, Dale

Submitted to: Nonpoint Source Water Quality Monitoring Results Workshop
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 30, 2004
Publication Date: January 4, 2005
Citation: Lehrsch, G.A., Wright, J.L., Westermann, D.T. 2005. Nitrate-N and bromide breakthrough in a sprinkler-irrigated portneuf silt loam [abstract]. Nonpoint Source Water Quality Monitoring Results Workshop. p. 14.

Technical Abstract: Excessive irrigation can leach agricultural chemicals and nutrients through the vadose zone to contaminate ground water. A four-year field experiment near Kimberly, ID, was designed to study the transport of water, using applied Br as a tracer, and native nitrate through a Portneuf silt loam (Durinodic Xeric Haplocalcid) cropped to dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in growing season 1, and a mixed sward of HiMag tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and ryegrass (Lolium spp.) in seasons 2 & 3. We irrigated the field using a solid-set irrigation system and a leaching fraction of 22% in season 1, 30% in season 2, and 35% in season 3. We measured native N in soil samples, precipitation and irrigation using rain gages, soil water contents using a neutron probe, and solute concentrations in soil solution samples taken from depths of 0.3 to 4.3 m. Solute movement and dispersion by depth were characterized using breakthrough curves of relative concentration (C/C0) plotted versus time. Bromide peak concentration decreased and movement slowed as the solute pulse moved downward through the profile. Nitrate-N and Br were transported through this irrigated and cropped silt loam by both matrix flow and spatially varying preferential flow. Nitrate-N or Br moved preferentially through Portneuf profiles at 6 of 8 monitored sites, commonly to depths of 0.9 m and less commonly to depths from 1.5 to 4.3 m. Leaching of mobile solutes through preferential flow paths in southern Idaho Portneuf soils is likely, even when irrigating with a judicious leaching fraction of 22%.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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