Nitrate-nitrogen leaching from agricultural areas is a major cause for groundwater pollution. Polluted groundwater with high levels of nitrate is hazardous and cause adverse health effects. Human consumption of water with elevated levels of NO3-N has been linked to the infant disorder methemoglobinemia and also to non-Hodgkin's disease lymphoma in adults. This research aims to study the temporal patterns and source apportionment of nitrate-nitrogen leaching in a paddy soil at Ladang Merdeka Ismail Mulong in Kelantan, Malaysia. The complex data matrix (128 x 16) of nitrate-nitrogen parameters was subjected to multivariate analysis mainly Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Discriminant Analysis (DA). PCA extracted four principal components from this data set which explained 86.4% of the total variance. The most important contributors were soil physical properties confirmed using Alyuda Forecaster software (R2 = 0.98). Discriminant analysis was used to evaluate the temporal variation in soil nitrate-nitrogen on leaching process. Discriminant analysis gave four parameters (hydraulic head, evapotranspiration, rainfall and temperature) contributing more than 98% correct assignments in temporal analysis. DA allowed reduction in dimensionality of the large data set which defines the four operating parameters most efficient and economical to be monitored for temporal variations. This knowledge is important so as to protect the precious groundwater from contamination with nitrate.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.