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Impact of irrigation on the nitrate contamination of the surface waters in Bardenas, northeastern Spain

AutorMachín Gayarre, Javier ; Navas Izquierdo, Ana
Fecha de publicación1997
CitaciónHistochemistry 243: 109-116 (1997)
ResumenAn area of 28 500 ha within the Bardenas Irrigation Project (Arba River, central Ebro valley) was monitored weekly during the hydrological year 1994-1995 to assess the impact of irrigation on nitrate levels in surface waters. The results show that nitrate content in 30% of the drainage ditches is above the tolerance limit for human consumption. In areas of crops that are very demanding of nitrogen fertilizers (corn, vegetables), nitrate levels reached 100 mg 1-1 during the irrigation period. At the Arbe outlet, average nitrate levels were 40 mg 1-1 with maximum levels of 57 mg 1-1, while before entering the area the concentrations were 2 mg 1-1. The nitrate balance carried out for this area shows that 2393 t of nitrate were exported by the runoff, representing 96 kg per irrigated hectare. Because of the strong impact of irrigation documented in this research, better water and fertilizer management policies are strongly recommended in order to improve water quality standards.
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