Maryland today | The water quality data system aims to prevent the farm…

Stopping the flow of fertilizer and manure from farmland during rainstorms not only helps farmers’ crops and bank accounts, it protects downstream waterways where these nutrients are much less welcome.

But to identify the best runoff reduction techniques, farmers need to know not only when and where nutrients are leaving their fields, but also what those nutrients are. Nitrogen and phosphorus are not all the same; some come from the fertilizers farmers apply, while others come from natural processes in the earth, or from forested areas or development upstream of farms.

In the July issue of the journal water research, Gurpal Toor, a professor and extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland, describes a network of sophisticated monitoring stations across the state to identify what is leaking from the earth every few minutes. during the rains. He and his team have collected runoff samples and associated data over the past several years to capture a detailed picture of nutrient loss at different times during different types of rainfall.

“What we’re trying to do here with some of these advanced sensors is actually get more high-intensity, high-resolution data so we can see what’s happening at the beginning, middle, and end. end of the storm because it’s gonna tell us another side of the story,” Toor explained.

Watch a video about Toor’s work.

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