HOLLISTER, Calif. — The University of California Cooperative Extension has conducted a study that will inform farmers on reducing over-application of fertilizer to avoid seepage into groundwater, according to an article on Californian.com.

Researchers from Monterey County studied spinach crops in Salinas Valley, looking at the critical balance of how much nitrogen fertilizer is absorbed by spinach versus how much growers apply, the article reported.

Water regulations in the area require farmers to match that balance, the article noted, but spinach is a challenging crop because of the way it absorbs nitrogen.

Recently, groundwater quality monitoring in the Salinas Valley found that many areas exceed the state and federal levels for nitrate in the water, according to the article.

“Our study was specifically designed to provide data on the nitrogen uptake characteristics of spinach and to evaluate ways to improve nitrogen fertilizer management," said lead author Aaron Heinrich.

Read the full article here.