Solving the Nitrogen Puzzle
Published:26 Apr.2021    Source:CropScience

For years it’s been relatively easy to measure pollution from, say, a factory. At a factory, there might be just one pipe of waste to measure. Easy enough. But what about a farm? We might not typically think of farms as sources of pollution. But they can have big impacts on the land over time. Unlike at a factory, the waste filters slowly through soil across the whole plot of land.

This waste — excess nutrients from fertilizer — can eventually reach groundwater. If too much nitrogen enters groundwater, it can be dangerous to drink. In the form of nitrate, this nitrogen is especially bad for infants. The groundwater can eventually feed lakes or streams. There, the nitrate can cause algae blooms and dead zones without oxygen.