|Nitrates could be in drinking water|
|Written by Ron F. Meyer, area CSU Extension agent|
Nitrogen is a naturally occurring nutrient found in most soils. It is essential for life in plants, and most plants require large amounts of nitrogen for best growth. Nitrate (nitrogen) formation also is an integral part of the natural nitrogen cycle in the environment.
Nitrates form when microorganisms break down fertilizers, decaying plants, manures or other organic residues. Usually plants take up these nitrates, but sometimes rain or irrigation water can leach them into groundwater.
Nitrates also occur naturally in some groundwater. Research by Ron Meyer, CSU area Extension agronomist, found natural levels of 3 parts per million nitrates in the High Plains Ogallala aquifer (Meyer, R. F. 1990. Water Quality Comparison of High Plain’s vs. Northern Plain’s Major Groundwater Systems. Proceedings: Groundwater Engineering & Management Conference, Denver).
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