Monitoring shallow groundwater quality in agricultural watersheds in Denmark

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    Monitoring of shallow groundwater quality is part of the Danish Agricultural Watershed Monitoring Programme. The monitoring program provides fast and field-related information on impacts of changes in agricultural practices on a watershed scale. The monitoring concept described is carried out in six well-defined hydrological basins and includes new types of groundwater nests and soil water stations. Results from the first three years are presented through examples from the clayey till watershed Lillebaek and the sandy watershed Barslund Baek. By averaging concentrations of solutes in groundwater sampled at the same depth on a monthly basis, it is possible to evaluate trends in the overall impact of climate and different agricultural practices in a watershed on the groundwater quality. Characteristic seasonal variations in nitrate concentrations related to water level fluctuations was observed. The monitoring has demonstrated significantly higher nitrate concentrations in groundwater sampled downgradient of fields receiving manure than in groundwater sampled downgradient of fertilized fields. Significant vertical nitrate reduction downgradient of manured fields was observed in both the sandy and the clayey watershed though above the redoxcline. In the clayey till watershed fast vertical transport and insignificant nitrate reduction was observed downgradient of fertilized fields probably due to fracture and macro-pore flow.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)309-319
    Number of pages11
    JournalEnvironmental Geology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 1996


    • Agricultural watersheds
    • Denmark
    • Groundwater quality
    • Monitoring
    • Nitrate
    • Shallow groundwater

    Programme Area

    • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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