Nitrate Content in Potatoes Cultivated in Contaminated Groundwater Areas

Alenka Hmelak Gorenjak, Davorin Urih, Tomaz Langerholc, Janja Kristl


For a number of years Dravsko polje plain has been subject to intensive farming. Consequently, groundwater in this area is heavily contaminated with nitrates and pesticides. The goal of the study was to determine the quality of potatoes, based on nitrate levels cultivated in an area of contaminated groundwater. We also examined the influence of sustainable agriculture on the quality of crops. Nitrate content was determined using RP/HPLC/UV chromatography. Average nitrate content in potatoes cultivated on Dravsko polje plain was 157 mg/kg (range 18-429 mg/kg), which was not significantly different from the nitrate content in potatoes cultivated outside the contaminated area (mean value 145 mg/kg; range 28-448 mg/kg). In 18% of all samples, nitrate content exceeded maximum recommended levels. In potatoes cultivated via integrated production nitrate content did not significantly differ from the one in conventionally cultivated potatoes. In contrast, organic potatoes contained lower levels of nitrates (range 14-156 mg/kg). Our results also show that individual potato varieties are characterized by different trends of nitrate accumulation. Strict adherence to sustainable agriculture is reflected in lower levels of nitrate in potatoes.


potatoes, nitrate, HPLC chromatography, contaminated groundwater, production system, variety

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Journal of Food Research   ISSN 1927-0887 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0895 (Online)  E-mail:

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