Denitrification is an ecological approach that can be used to prevent the leaching of nitrates in soil, this in turn stops any ground water from being contaminated with nutrients.

  • Fertilisers contain nitrogen, and are often applied to crops by farmers to help plant growth and increase the yield.
  • Bacteria in the soil convert the nitrogen in the fertilizer to nitrates, making it easier for the plants to absorb.
  • Immobilization is a process where the nitrates become part of the soil organic matter.
  • When oxygen levels are low, another form of bacteria then turns the nitrates into gases such as nitrogen, nitrous oxide and nitrogen dioxide.
  • The conversion of these nitrates into gas is called denitrification. This prevents nitrates from leaching into the soil and contaminating groundwater.