Reactive nitrogen in a clay till hill slope field system

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Abstract

To assess the contribution of reactive nitrogen from groundwater to surface waters, we need more knowledge on how reactive nitrogen behaves in the glacial till systems underlying many agricultural fields. Groundwater sampled from suction cups and piezometers placed in the glacial till underlying a winter wheat field shows the nitrate concentration in water leaching to deeper than 2 m below ground surface (mbg) is ~ 60 mg L −1. Within 5 mbg, all of the nitrate is removed and this appears to take place within a redox zone rather than at a sharp redox front. Ammonium released from the till is negligible. A 2D dataset reveals that the depth to the redox zone undulates between 3 and 5 mbg, perhaps a result of local variations in infiltration. It appears that the nitrate is generally reduced by the oxidation of pyrite and locally by organic matter in lenses within the till.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1240-1251
Number of pages12
JournalAmbio
Volume48
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Ammonium
  • Glacial till
  • Nitrate
  • Nitrate reduction
  • PHREEQC inverse modeling
  • Pyrite oxidation
  • Reactive nitrogen

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources

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