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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Nitrate-Nitrogen and Phosphate-Phosphorus in Seven Kentucky Streams Draining Small Agricultural Watersheds: Eighteen Years Later


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 21 No. 1, p. 147-150
    Received: Jan 16, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Grant W. Thomas ,
  2. Gerald R. Haszler and
  3. James D. Crutchfield
  1. All authors, Dep. of Agronomy, Univ. of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0091



Seven streams draining agricultural watersheds and representing the agriculturally important physiographic regions of Kentucky were resampled during the months of December 1989 through June 1990. These streams had previously been sampled in 1971–1972. During the intervening 18 yr, the use of fertilizer N in Kentucky has nearly doubled and fertilizer phosphate use has increased slightly. Nevertheless, phosphate contents of these streams averaged somewhat lower than they did 18 yr ago and NO3-N was almost exactly the same. Only one watershed had changed appreciably in land use; a subdivision had been built and equipped with a sewage plant that drains into one of the creeks. Samples taken above and below the sewage effluent demonstrated the strong effect of the subdivision on both NO3 and PO4 in the water. As indicated 18 yr ago, parent rock of the soils continues to have a greater effect on NO3-N and PO4 content of streams than does agricultural use.

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