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Pollution of groundwater due to extensive use of fertilizers

Groundwater pollution (also called groundwater contamination) occurs when pollutants are released to the ground and make their way down into groundwater. This type of water pollution can also occur in agriculture land due to the presence of minor and unwanted chemicals, fertilizers, contaminant or impurity in the groundwater

Introduction of new high responding varieties, the necessity for higher economic yields and low fertilizer costs have resulted in the rapid increase in fertilizer consumption. This increase in the use of fertilizers has raised many questions concerning nutrient pollution of the surface and ground waters.

When fertilizers are applied to agricultural lands, a portion usually leaches through the soil and to the water table.

The analysis of various forms of nitrogen, in groundwater, from agricultural fields (Long and Short Term Fertilizer Trials), reflected some sort of chemical pollution in the form of higher values of total alkalinity, chloride, total hardness, Ca and Mg hardness.  This indicates that long term uses of fertilizer lead to infiltration of nutrients like Ca and Mg to the groundwater which may ultimately lead to changes in the chemical characteristics of water.

Related: Global warming and Greenhouse Effect.

 A comparison of various forms of nitrogen showed that the nitrate content was high in groundwater from the fertilizer trial areas. Total nitrogen (inorganic and organic forms) in water was highest for agricultural areas. The high values of total nitrogen in groundwater of agricultural areas clearly indicate the percolation of nitrogenous fertilizers to the groundwater but the levels are still relatively low.

However, since nitrate percolation to ground water is a slow process, there is danger of high levels of NO3 accumulation in ground in the next decades.

A example introduced by G.B. Pant University ofAgriculture and Technology,  one of the big problem of this is in the Tarai region of Udham Singh Nagar district  in  Uttarakhand  and  adjoining  district of Rampur, in the north – west Uttar Pradesh in India, is endowed  with very fertile soils coupled with good rainfall.

Due to this and other favorable agro-climatic conditions, the area has been under intensive agriculture for the last five decades or so. During this period, there have been many changes in the area. Considering the above, the present study was undertaken to assess the pollution level in this area, due to the extensive use of fertilizers.

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