Spatial analysis and simulation of selected hydrogeologic and groundwater quality parameters in a glacial till aquitard

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Ella, Victor
Major Professor
Stewart W. Melvin
Ladon C. Jones
Robert Horton
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Assessment of the variability of groundwater quality or nutrient loss in a glacial till aquitard necessitates spatial analysis and simulation of hydrogeologic properties and groundwater quality parameters. Geostatistical analysis was performed to characterize the spatial behavior of hydraulic conductivity obtained from slug tests and NO3-N groundwater concentration observed in spatially scattered shallow and deep wells. Ordinary kriging was employed to determine values of these parameters at unsampled locations. Numerical simulation of groundwater recharge was consequently performed using a three-dimensional transient inverse groundwater modeling approach. Nitrate-Nitrogen loading rates were similarly estimated. A comprehensive evaluation of the groundwater quality at two selected glacial till sites in terms of NO3-N and herbicide occurrence and distribution during the most recent years was also carried out;Results of this research indicate that the hydraulic conductivity of the glacial till aquitard averaged 1.9 x 10-6 m/s and 9.6 x 10-8 m/s for the oxidized and unoxidized till layers, respectively, and exhibited a highly erratic spatial behavior. Groundwater NO3-N concentrations similarly exhibited a poor spatial structure. Groundwater recharge ranged from 18.7 mm/yr to 33.2 mm/yr, corresponding to 2.3% to 4.3% of the annual precipitation in the area. On the other hand, NO3-N loading rates ranged from 0.53 kg/ha to 0.75 kg/ha over the last five years. Groundwater NO3-N concentrations at the selected glacial till sites indicated field average values lower than the EPA's drinking water standard of 10.0 mg/L, although a number of individual shallow wells exhibited concentrations exceeding this level. Herbicide concentrations observed at both sites were all below the established drinking water standard.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1999