Reducing Nitrate Leaching in Agricultural Soils Using Geophysics

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The main goal of the proposed project is the establishment of a diagnostic surveillance framework for evidence-based Nitrogen management in New York State agricultural solis. Agricultural geophysics can play a pivotal role in making the framework operational, by providing an inexpensive, rapid, and non-destructive screening tool. We test the wide applicability of surface geophysical methods for setting up measurement systems for the management of soils, crops, agricultural inputs, and irrigation. Regional centres of scientific and technological excellence will support high quality laboratory reference analyses and the up-grading of scientific and technical skills through training and education. Key challenges include the development of robust low cost instrumentation and development of decision support systems to interpret geophysical data into management recommendations.


  • Inexpensive, rapid, and non-destructive screening tool
  • New platform for research of soil properties
  • Detailed soil maps representing accurate levels of soil constituents

Applications and Benefits

  • Evidence-based management of agriculture and environment
  • Reducing Nitrate Leaching, protect the Environment
  • Potential to reward growers, improve soil quality
  • Replace traditional lab analyses for soil constituents

Current Project Status
The field program currently underway evaluates the geophysical response of potato growing fields treated with standard soluble nitrogen fertilizer versus the Controlled Release Nitrogen Fertilizer (CRNF). Measurements will cross-referenced with data obtained by Suction Cup Lysimeters. This project builts on previour work by the City College and Graduate Center of CUNY, in cooperation with Cornell University's Agricultural Extension Center in Riverhead, New York. High resolution electrical resistivity imaging of vadose zone infiltration experiments was conducted on agricultural soils as part of a doctoral dissertation submitted by Lampousis, A. (2009).