Indicators are needed to check whether policies on protection of groundwater are effective and if regulations are complied with. We evaluated various indicators at different scales, both in space and in time, and at different degrees of complexity. Groundwater was sampled on 34 arable farms for 3 years. Nitrate concentration in upper groundwater was low on clay soil. On sandy soil, peat layers reduced the nitrate concentration with about 80 mg/l on average. Sandy soils with high groundwater tables had nitrate concentrations that were less than half of those at sandy soils with low groundwater tables. The relationship between different fertilization variables and nitrate in groundwater was investigated for sandy soils without peat layers. N surplus poorly correlated with nitrate concentrations in groundwater when individual sampling points were studied, but clearly increased when data were averaged at the farm level. Soil mineral nitrogen correlated best with nitrate concentrations in groundwater. The relationships show that especially on well drained soil drastic measures will be inevitable to reach good water quality.
- sandy regions
- nitrogen use