Fertilizers

Fertilizers are the primary cause of groundwater contamination beneath agricultural lands. Both inorganic (chemically manufactured) and organic (from animal or human waste) fertilizers applied to agricultural lands provide nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium that fertilize the land and stimulate plant growth. A portion of these nutrients usually leaches through the soil and reaches the groundwater table. Phosphate and potassium fertilizers are readily adsorbed on soil particles and seldom constitute a pollution problem. However, only a portion of nitrogen is adsorbed by soil or used by plants, and the rest is dissolved in water to form nitrates in a process called nitrification. Nitrates are mobile in groundwater and have potential to harm infant human beings and livestock if consumed on a regular basis (Hassan 1974).

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