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Nitrate Leaching in Perennial Systems Compare Favorably to Corn Crops Over Time
Published: November 01, 2019
Posted: August 05, 2021


Compare nitrate (NO3) leaching of perennial crops to corn over a 7-year period between 2009 and 2016.


  • Soil water was sampled from below the root zone using suction cup samplers.
  • Leaching was estimated from nitrate concentrations in soil water and modeled drainage rates.
  • Annual summaries represent crop years (harvest to planting) beginning with 2009 harvest.


  • Over 7-years, perennial grasses and poplar trees leached much less nitrate than corn.
  • Nitrate leaching from grasses and poplar was comparable with corn for 1 to 2 years after planting.
  • Perennial cropping systems can reduce nitrate pollution in agricultural landscapes.

Hussain, M.Z. et al. “Nitrate leaching from continuous corn, perennial grasses, and poplar in the U.S. Midwest.” Journal of Environmental Quality 48(6) (2019). [DOI:10.2134/jeq2019.04.0156]

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)

Division: SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


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