Refining Techniques for Assessing Best Management Practices for Nitrate Load Reduction by Comparing In-Situ Tracers
The above image is a photo of site T3, a saturated buffer zone located downgradient from a crop field with installed subsurface groundwater drainage tiles and sampling wells (white PVC pipes) at various depths. T3 is the site of a long-term study in collaboration with the City of Bloomington to monitor groundwater quality and assess best management practices in reducing nitrate load in agricultural runoff, sourced from external fertilizers. Understanding nitrate movement in groundwater by means of a tracer test utilizing sodium chloride is a common practice; however, it is costly and difficult to distinguish the injected from preexisting chloride. Rhodamine WT dye (Rh) could be a cheaper more effective alternative, so I conduct a tracer test comparing NaCl and Rh at T3. Results suggest that Rh can be used as an effective tracer which opens a conversation of a new methodology. This image of T3 illustrates the practical, real-world application of my research.
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