Water is an important, but often overlooked, nutrient. Livestock water requirements are affected by many factors including, size, productivity, diet and environmental conditions. Limited access or reduced water consumption can result in dehydration, which can be fatal to livestock.
When nutrients and other pollutants associated with animal manures and commercial fertilizers are not managed properly, they can affect plant and animal life (including humans) negatively. Some of these impacts include algae blooms causing the depletion of oxygen in surface waters, pathogens and nitrates in drinking water, and the emission of odors and gases into the air.
Manure and commercial fertilizers contain nutrients essential for plant growth. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the most critical of these nutrients. This publication outlines some basic information about nitrogen and its interaction in the environment.
Monitoring studies conducted at national and state levels show that nitrogen (N) concentrations in groundwater exceed health standards more often than other common contaminants.
Activities of human beings have changed the balance of nitrogen (N) on the planet. Burning fossil fuels for energy, intensive use of land to grow food, and disposal of organic wastes have an effect on the N cycle. Studying the influence of our activities on the N cycle helps us understand the consequences of changing the balance of N in the environment.
Over the years, scientists have come to realize that accurately predicting nitrogen (N) problems in water resources depends on knowledge of the interaction among many factors. It is a complicated process that we have not yet mastered, but we do know that some factors consistently exert significant control over the processes that affect N mobility, availability, and accessibility. Determining the value of these factors and combining those values into a single value assigned to a specific geographic area is the basis for assessment.
Phosphorus (P) is a naturally occurring element that exists in minerals, soil, living organisms and water. Plant growth and development require phosphorus, like nitrogen, in large amounts. Phosphorus is essential for early root development and hastens plant maturity.