Runoff and Fertilizer Use *
AbstractMany people routinely use fertilizer for crops, gardens, and lawns. What people don't know is that each time they apply fertilizer, the fertilizer seeps through the soil into the water table. This can eventually lead to the contamination of a local water source, like a stream, pond, lake, bay, or ocean. This is an especially big problem for agricultural practices that frequently use large amounts of fertilizer on fields that are connected by irrigation channels. The run-off of fertilizer seeps into the irrigation channels and eventually joins with a river or other body of water. You can do an experiment with sod in a tray to measure the amount of fertilizer run-off. Apply different concentrations of fertilizer in water to sod in a plastic tray. After allowing the sod to soak in the solution, tip the tray over a bucket to collect the run-off. You can test for the concentration of nitrogen in the run-off as a test for how much fertilizer collected as run-off. What does this show about the potential for contamination of water sources? What are the potential effects of fertilizer run-off on animals? You can conduct a similar experiment using different concentrations of fertilizer in water to test the effect on aquatic animals, like goldfish, snails or aquatic worms. How are these animals affected? Also try using algae or other aquatic plants. What effect does fertilizer run-off have on them? (USDA ARS, 2005)
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Last edit date: 2017-07-28
BibliographyUSDA ARS, 2005. "USDA Agricultural Research Service Kids Pages" Washington, D.C. [accessed: 3/1/2006] http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/kids/fair/ideas.htm.
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