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Leaching (agriculture): Wikis

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In agriculture, leaching refers to (1) the loss of water-soluble plant nutrients from the soil, due to rain and irrigation. Soil structure, crop planting, type and application rates of fertilizers, and other factors are taken into account to avoid excessive nutrient loss.
Leaching may also refer to (2) the practice of applying a small amount of excess irrigation where the water has a high salt content to avoid salts from building up in the soil (salinity control). Where this is practiced, drainage must also usually be employed, to carry away the excess water.

Leaching is an environmental concern when it contributes to groundwater contamination. As water from rain, flooding, or other sources seeps into the ground, it can dissolve chemicals and carry them into the underground water supply. Of particular concern are hazardous waste dumps and landfills, and, in agriculture, excess fertilizer, improperly stored animal manure, and biocides (e.g. pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and herbicides).

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  • R.J.Oosterbaan, Water and salt balances in agricultural hydrology. Lecture notes, International Course on Land Drainage, ILRI, Wageningen, The Netherlands. On line : [1]]
  • R.J.Oosterbaan, 1997. "SaltMod: A tool for interweaving of irrigation and drainage for salinity control". In: W.B.Snellen (ed.), Towards integration of irrigation, and drainage management. ILRI Special report, p. 41-43. On line : [2]

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