Summary: Synthesis Report of the ERTDI-funded project 2000-LS-2.3-M2
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The objective of this integrated research project was to measure nitrate leaching from an intensively managed dairy farm in a vulnerable area. Mean concentrations of nitrate nitrogen in the groundwater beneath Curtin’s farm during the first and second monitoring years were 15.2 mg/l and 11.9 mg/l, respectively, and exceeded the Maximum Admissible Concentrations (MAC) set in the Nitrates Directive and drinking water legislation. The average nitrate nitrogen concentrations in the soil pore water were less than the drinking water MAC in the three measurement years. However, there was a trend for increased nitrogen loadings to result in elevated concentrations of nitrate nitrogen in soil pore water and groundwater. The results indicated that lower concentrations of nitrate nitrogen in groundwater can be expected where management practices reduce the nitrogen and hydrological loads.
Questions remain as to the specific suite of management practices required to achieve compliance with water quality targets on an intensively managed grassland dairy farm on a vulnerable soil type:
A number of national research projects have been initiated to address some of these questions.