Modelling groundwater flow and nitrate transport: a case study of an area used for precision agriculture in the middle part of the Vistula River valley, Poland

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Abstract

The present paper discusses studies related to the preparation of a hydrogeological model of groundwater flow and nitrate transport in an area where a precision farming system is applied. Components of water balance were determined using the UnSat Suite Plus software (HELP model), while the average infiltration rate calculated for the study area equalled 20 per cent. The Visual MODFLOW software was used for the purpose of modelling in the saturated zone. Hydrogeological parameters of the model layers, inclusive of hydraulic conductivity, were defined on the basis of results of column tests that were carried out under laboratory conditions (column experiment). Related to the dose of mineral nitrogen used in precision fertilisation (80 kg N/ha), scenarios of the spread of nitrates in the soil-water environment were worked out. The absolute residual mean error calculated for nitrate concentrations obtained from laboratory and modelling studies equalled 0.188 mg/L, the standard error of the estimate equalling 0.116 mg/L. Results obtained were shown graphically in the form of hydroisohypse maps and nitrate isolines. Conclusions were drawn regarding the possibility of using numerical modelling techniques in predicting transport and fate of nitrates from fertilisers applied in precision agriculture systems.

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