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Irrigation well water in Nebraska: essential nutrient contents and other properties


Wortmann, Charles (2020), Irrigation well water in Nebraska: essential nutrient contents and other properties, Dryad, Dataset,


Water nutrient concentrations and other properties were surveyed by sampling water from 642 irrigation wells in Nebraska. The amount of Ca, Mg, S, Cl, and B applied in irrigation exceeds removal in 15 Mg ha-1 of corn (Zea mays L.) grain harvest for most wells. Irrigation supply exceeded corn grain harvest removal of K, Mn and Mo for >20% of the wells. The supply of P, Zn, Cu, Fe, and Mo was generally very low but sufficient with some wells to be considered in nutrient management plans. The median level of nitrate N was 4.4 ppm with 25% of the wells having >10 ppm NO3-N which is above the suitability limit for human consumption. The agricultural lime equivalent applied with one or two ML of irrigation was enough to neutralize the acidifying effect of 200 kg ha-1 of fertilizer-N for 70% or 89% of the wells. Nutrient and lime supply was relatively low for Sandhills wells and relatively high for wells in river valleys of <100 ft depth. No wells had excessive Na levels but 0.3% of the wells had salinity levels of concern. A grouping of wells into 11 aquifer, geological formation and well-depth combinations accounted for >20% of the variation for most water properties but much variation occurred within groups. Sampling of the well water is needed for full optimization of nutrient and soil management. Information on nutrients supplied through irrigation should be complemented by regular soil testing and the use of recommended nutrient management guidelines.


Water of 642 irrigation wells was sampled and analyzed for 17 properties. Data was analyzed and presented by 11 well categories based on aquifer, geological formation and well depth.

Usage Notes

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