Groundwater nitrate concentration reductions in a riparian buffer enrolled in the NC conservation reserve enhancement program

Jacob D. Wiseman, Michael R. Burchell, Garry L. Grabow, Deanna L. Osmond, T. L. Messer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Riparian buffers have been used for many years as a best management practice to decrease the effects of nonpoint pollution from watersheds. The NC Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (NC CREP) has established buffers to treat groundwater nitrate-nitrogen (NO3--N) from agricultural sources in multiple river basins. A maturing 46 m wide riparian buffer enrolled in NC CREP was studied to determine its effectiveness in reducing groundwater NO3--N concentrations from a cattle pasture fertilized with poultry litter. Three monitoring blocks that included groundwater quality wells, water table wells, and soil redox probes, were established in the buffer. NO3--N concentrations decreased significantly across the buffer in all of the monitoring blocks with mean reductions of 76-92%. Many biological processes, including denitrification and plant uptake, may have been responsible for the observed NO3--N reductions but could not be differentiated in this study. However, mean reductions in Cl- concentrations ranged from 48-65% through the blocks, which indicated that dilution was an important factor in observed NO3--N reductions. These findings should be carefully considered for future buffer enrollments when assigning nitrogen removal credits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-664
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Volume50
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

Keywords

  • CREP
  • Denitrification
  • Dilution
  • Nitrate
  • Nitrogen
  • Riparian buffer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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