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Testing the Water

MSU researcher and Extension specialist Adam Sigler checks a data logger that has been recording groundwater levels in an abandoned well near a historic granary. Photo courtesy of Kelly Gorham.
MSU researcher and Extension specialist Adam Sigler checks a data logger that has been recording groundwater levels in an abandoned well near a historic granary. Shallow hand-dug wells like this are common in the area where groundwater is only 20 feet below the surface, and many of these wells are still in use. Photo by Kelly Gorham.
Agriculture has driven the local economy of small central Montana communities for at least 120 years. Within the two counties’ 6,400 square miles, there are more than 200,000 acres of wheat planted each year and fewer than 14,000 people.

Historically, groundwater in the shallow aquifers of this area has contained a high level of nitrate, which can pose health risks to the community. Researchers from Montana State University (MSU), including MSU Extension, and Utah State University partnered with the community to identify the causes of the high nitrate concentration and try out agricultural practices that might reverse the problem.

A four-year study that has led to ongoing research in the area, the Judith River Watershed Nitrogen Project, funded by a grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, has brought the university’s land-grant mission to life using applied science to serve the needs of a rural Montana community. For more information, read the MSU article

 
Farm Bill Priority Areas
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment
U.S. States and Territories
Montana,
Utah
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