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Turyk, Nancy; Shaw, Byron H.; Russelle, Michael P. / Remediation of soil and groundwater using effectively and ineffectively nodulated alfalfa

Project summary,   pp. 4-5

Page 4

Remediation of Soil and Groundwater using
Effectively and Ineffectively Nodulated Alfalfa
University of Wisconsin System Project 01-REM-4 and DATCP Project 00-04
Nancy B. Turyk - Sr. Research Specialist, UWSP
Dr. Byron H. Shaw - Emeritus Professor of Water Resources, UWSP
Dr. Michael P. Russelle - Soil Scientist, USDA ARS, St. Paul, MN
Location of Research: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Univ of MN St
Paul and
Dopp dairy farm Portage County
Duration of UWS Funding: July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2002
Project Summary
Federal drinking water standards are exceeded for nitrate-N in 10% of the
private wells in
Wisconsin and over 40% in some Portage County townships. In addition, P leaching
becoming a recognized concern on soils that receive large applications of
livestock manure.
This study was designed to test whether normal, N2-fixing (effectively nodulated)
alfalfa or
special non-N2-fixing (ineffectively nodulted) alfalfa can remove excess
N and P from an
abandoned barnyard. Nutrient removal, yield, and persistence of these plants
will help determine
the feasibility of their use in this and other agricultural activities in
medium-to-coarse textured
soils common to Wisconsin and other Midwest states.
The primary objective of this study was to monitor changes that occur in
groundwater quality
and soil fertility in an abandoned barnyard planted with effectively and
ineffectively nodulated
alfalfa cultivars (Agate and Saranac) for possible use in phytoremediation
This project consists
of several components; Variables analyzed included groundwater chemistry,
soil characteristics,
and differences between alfalfa cultivars for yield and plant nutrient content.
Groundwater monitoring wells (up- and down-gradient) of the 60 m-long plots
were sampled
monthly through the growing season, from March through October, plus a winter
totaling nine sample dates per year. Analyses included NO2+NO3-N and Cl-
on all sample dates
plus two samples per year for total reactive P, K, and NH4-N.
Spatially-referenced samples from the upper 1.5 m of soil were collected
at the end of each
growing season in 1998 and 2000 for analysis of NO2+NO3-N, NH4-N, and extractable
Spatially-referenced topsoil samples were obtained in spring of each year
and analyzed for
inorganic N and extractable P. Eight spatially-referenced herbage samples
were collected from
each plot every harvest for determination of biomass and N and P content.
Topsoil samples taken
at the same locations were analyzed for inorganic N and extractable P.
Both Agate and Saranac cultivars of alfalfa are capable of taking up as much
as 400 kg/ha of N
from these sandy soils. The maximum uptake was 380 kg/ha by effective Agate
in 1999,

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