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Research Project: MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION PRACTICES TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY IN AGROECOSYSTEMS OF THE NORTHEASTERN US

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Terrestrial sources of urea to water in a mixed land use watershed: exploring the roles of current and past nitrogen management

Author
item Buda, Anthony
item Tzilkowski, Sarah - Pennsylvania State University
item Kibet, Leonard - University Of Nebraska
item Bryant, Ray
item Boyer, Elizabeth - Pennsylvania State University
item Allen, Arthur - University Of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)
item Kleinman, Peter
item May, Eric - University Of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/16/2014
Publication Date: 5/22/2014
Citation: Buda, A.R., Tzilkowski, S.S., Kibet, L.C., Bryant, R.B., Boyer, E.W., Allen, A.L., Kleinman, P.J., May, E.B. 2014. Terrestrial sources of urea to water in a mixed land use watershed: exploring the roles of current and past nitrogen management. Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting. p 103.

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: A global increase in the use of urea-based fertilizers and manures has been implicated in rising urea concentrations in coastal waters, and by extension, more frequent and toxic harmful algal blooms. Drawing upon research from a mixed land use basin on Maryland’s Atlantic Coastal Plain, this presentation will explore the role of current and past nitrogen management on urea movement to field drainage, runoff, and stream water. Results from rainfall simulation and leaching experiments indicate that transfers of recently applied urea to runoff waters are highly unlikely under normal climatic conditions and proper nutrient management. Instead, the connection of nitrogen-rich groundwater to field ditches during storms leaves behind a nitrogen source that can be readily converted to urea when ditch waters become stagnant and hypoxic. Microbially generated urea can then be flushed from ditches into local streams during the next rainfall. Evidence from this research seems to refute the notion that applied urea represents the main source of urea to coastal waters. Rather, elevated nitrogen in ground waters from the legacy of past nitrogen management appear to be more important.