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Subsurface Flow

Subsurface Flow

Photo by Caleb, Swaesy, Sam and Haley

Subsurface Flow

Location: Spring Creek

Subsurface flow can affect the quality of Iowa’s water if practices allow nutrients in the soil to drain into surface waters.

An average acre of corn in Iowa uptakes about 22 inches of soil water per growing season, and requires an average nitrogen concentration in the soil water solution of approximately 44 mg/L NO3-N to produce a high crop yield. That concentration would impair water quality if it is drained by tiles into surface waters. The question is: how can we fertilize crops to get economic yields while keeping NO3-N concentrations in soil water solution below 10 mg/L to meet the drinking water standard?

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