U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



J.Environ Qual.20:12-16(1991).


The cumulative effects of management pratices on nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) leaching and groundwater quality are frequently difficult to document because of the time required for expression and the diversity of interacting process involved. This work reports results of a N and water management program initiated by the Central Platte Natural Resource District (CPNRD) in Nebraska. Cultural pratices recommended by the CPNRD and reported by producers for the 1988 growing season, representing approximately 3900 fields and fertilizer N application rates. Groundwater NO3-N concentrations were positively correlated with ressidual N in the surface 0.9 m of soil prior to the growing season, reflecting the effects of past N and water management practices. Yield goals in 1988 averaged 9% higher than the average 10.0 Mg ha-1 in excess of the average N recommendation. By comparison, in a 1980 to 1984 study from an area within the CPNRD, yield goals averaged 28% greater than actual yields. Overly optimistic yield goals in 1988 accounted for 42% of the average excess N application rate 48 kg ha-1 (based on University of Nebraska recommendations). A large portion of average excess N application is attributed to producers in 14% of the area who applied > 100 kg N ha-1 more than the recommened rates. Fertilizer N applied showed little relationship to fertilizer N recommended. Better education and more stringent measures may be required to address the select group of producers who fail to follow CPNRD recommendations.