Nitrate Levels Increasing in Hastings Area According to Vadose Study

HASTINGS – The Hastings City Council recently saw a presentation by Dr. Daniel Snow, a professor with the University of Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory, on a study of the Hastings Vadose Zone that was done by the University.

The vadose zone is the underaturated portion of the ground that lies above the groundwater table. According to the study, nitrate concentrations have increased in the last five years in the Hastings area. They compared concentration profiles between 2011 and 2016. Under urban land use sites there was a reduction of about 44 percent. In cropland areas concentrations increased by about 30 percent.

But Dr. Snow did say that the change from furrow to pivot did reduce the amount of overall nitrate in the vadose zone. The university does want to continue the study and update the numbers. They also want to collect additional data like crop yields, fertilizer type, timing, and application rate by field, and irrigation water use and timing by field. 

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