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Tile-Drain and Denitrification Bioreactor Water Chemistry for a Soybean (Glycine max(L.) Merr.)-Corn (Zea mays L.) Rotation in East-Central Missouri (USA)

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Document pages: 12 pages

Abstract: Nitrogen transport from agriculture production fields raises the specter of environmental degradation of freshwater resources. Our objectives were to document and evaluate nitrate-N, ammonium-N, phosphorus and other nutrients emanating from a 40-ha controlled subsurface irrigation drainage technology coupled in series with a denitrification bioreactor. The intent of the denitrification bioreactor is to create an environment for anoxic microbial populations to support denitrification. We monitored the tile-drainage effluent and denitrification bioreactor water chemistry under a corn-soybean rotation to estimate the nutrient concentrations and the competence of the denitrification bioreactor to foster denitrification. Nitrate-N bearing tile drainage effluents ranged from less than 1.5 to 109 mg NO3- -N L, with the nitrate concentration differences attributed primarily to the: 1) timing of nitrogen fertilization for corn, 2) soil mineralization and residue decomposition, and 3) intense rainfall events. The denitrification bioreactor was highly effective in reducing drainage water nitrate-N concentrations providing the rate of water flow through the denitrification bioreactor permitted sufficient time for equilibrium to be attained for the nitrate reduction reactions. The nitrate-N concentrations entering the denitrification bioreactor ranged from 0.4 to 103 mg NO3- -N L in 2018, whereas the outlet nitrate concentrations typically ranged from 0.3 to 5.2 mg NO3- -N L in 2018. Nitrate tile-drainage effluent concentrations in 2019 were marginal, given soybeans obtain nitrogen from biological nitrogen fixation. Nutrient uptake by corn reduced the soil nitrate leaching pool and created nitrogen-bearing biomass, features important for formulating best management practices.

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