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Soil Test Phosphorus as an Indicator of Nitrate–Nitrogen Leaching Risk in Tile Drainage Water


A 2 year tile drainage study of 39 fields in Nova Scotia, Canada was conducted. Weekly nitrate–nitrogen (NO3–N) concentrations were highest in spring and fall during high flow. Fields receiving poultry or swine manure had elevated drainage NO3–N and soil test phosphorus. Water quality guidelines for NO3–N (10 mg L−1) were exceeded on 90% of rotations (corn-grass or corn-grain) and 13% of long-term cover fields. A significant correlation between NO3–N and soil test P (r 2 = 0.42; p < 0.001) was found. The 10 mg L−1 guideline was exceeded at 100% of fields with soil test phosphorus >200 mg kg−1 and 60% overall.

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Correspondence to R. D. Kinley.

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Kinley, R.D., Gordon, R.J. & Stratton, G.W. Soil Test Phosphorus as an Indicator of Nitrate–Nitrogen Leaching Risk in Tile Drainage Water. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 84, 413–417 (2010).

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  • Nitrate–nitrogen
  • Drainage
  • Soil phosphorus
  • Manure