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The single largest contaminant found in ground water samples taken throughout Nebraska is nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate-N). Much of it reaches the ground water as a "non-point source" contaminant leached out of the crop root zone.
Nitrate-N is essential to corn production. However, when leached from the crop root zone it can become a major source of ground water contamination. There are serious contamination problems in shallow aquifers beneath several river valleys in Nebraska. Increasing nitrate-N concentrations are beginning to appear in deeper aquifer.