Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study examines nitrogen, copper levels in Chesapeake Bay watershed

Date:
August 20, 2010
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
A comprehensive study of pollutants in a major Chesapeake Bay tributary revealed troublesome levels of nitrogen and copper that could flow into the Bay, according to agricultural scientists.

A comprehensive study of pollutants in the Choptank River in Maryland is showing troubling levels of nitrogen and copper that could flow into the Chesapeake Bay, according to ARS scientists and their cooperators.
Credit: Photo by Peggy Greb

A comprehensive study of pollutants in a major Chesapeake Bay tributary revealed troublesome levels of nitrogen and copper that could flow into the Bay, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their cooperators.

Scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and their collaborators conducted the study as part of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) for Maryland's Choptank River Watershed, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. CEAP began in 2004 and focuses on the effects of conservation practices and Farm Bill conservation programs on 37 watersheds nationwide.

Greg McCarty, a soil scientist with the ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory at Beltsville, Md., and Laura McConnell, a chemist at the ARS Environmental Management and Byproducts Utilization Laboratory in Beltsville, lead the team's CEAP Choptank project. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Monitoring the Choptank provides information needed to develop new conservation practices, refine existing ones, and design programs to evaluate efforts to clean the endangered Bay.

Sampling the water every two months for three years, the scientists found that nitrate concentrations often exceeded levels that can cause algal blooms. Nitrate concentrations were highest at the headwaters where farming is concentrated, suggesting that agricultural fertilizers, including manure and poultry litter, are primary sources.

But phosphorus concentrations were similar throughout the river, suggesting multiple sources. While some evidence points to wastewater treatment plants as a likely primary source, agriculture is also a major contributor.

High copper concentrations were found in almost all samples at the lower reaches of the Choptank, but not in the upstream areas. This suggests that agriculture is not the primary source. The levels were high enough to be toxic to clams and other aquatic invertebrates that help feed and filter the Bay.

Herbicides and their byproducts were present year-round. Concentrations did not approach established levels of concern for aquatic organisms. Still, this research shows the importance of agricultural practices that reduce herbicide losses, particularly from springtime applications.

The results of this study were published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Read more about this research in the August 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/aug10/chesapeake0810.htm


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The original article was written by Don Comis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Whitall, W. Dean Hively, Andrew K. Leight, Cathleen J. Hapeman, Laura L. McConnell, Thomas Fisher, Clifford P. Rice, Eton Codling, Gregory W. McCarty, Ali M. Sadeghi. Pollutant fate and spatio-temporal variability in the Choptank River estuary: Factors influencing water quality. Science of The Total Environment, 2010; 408 (9): 2096 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.01.006

Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Study examines nitrogen, copper levels in Chesapeake Bay watershed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100820101404.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2010, August 20). Study examines nitrogen, copper levels in Chesapeake Bay watershed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100820101404.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Study examines nitrogen, copper levels in Chesapeake Bay watershed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100820101404.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins