Leaching from nitrogen based fertilizers causes eutrophication of aquatic environments, which ultimately leads to hypoxia. For example, the surface area of such oxygen-starved regions in the Gulf of Mexico is rapidly increasing and greatly affects the marine ecosystem and development of the Gulf coast fishing industry. The purpose of this research is to: 1) develop an alternative to conventional fertilizer by incorporating a commercial fertilizer into a sodium alginate base to help retain the nitrogen at the site of application, 2) test the effectiveness of this new fertilizer for the prevention of nitrogen leaching after simulated rainfalls, and 3) apply the fertilizer during the growth of grasses to determine if the sodium alginate has additional benefits to plant growth (i.e. could also provide nutrients and help retain moisture in the soil). In a simulation, the fertilizer was incorporated into sand, which served as the “soil” medium, then subjected to numerous “1-inch rainfalls,” with the leachate being tested for ammonia concentration after each application for a significantly longer time thus considerably reducing the rate of nitrogen leaching. Moisture was also retained in the simulated soil for a longer period of time, which could prove to be an additional benefit.
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Vol. 107 • No. 3