Fertilizer Nitrogen: Contribution to Nitrate in Surface Water in a Corn Belt Watershed

Science  24 Dec 1971:
Vol. 174, Issue 4016, pp. 1331-1334
DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4016.1331


Measurements of nitrate concentration and relative enrichment in nitrogen-15 were made on samples of the surface waters of a typical Illinois corn belt watershed and the effluent of the subterranean tiles that drain the cropped land in the region. From these measurements, we estimate that at the time of peak nitrate concentration in the spring of 1970 a minimum of 55 to 60 percent of the nitrogen found as nitrate in the surface waters of this watershed originated from fertilizer nitrogen