Monitoring of nitrate content of vegetable crops in Uzhgorod district
Authors: I.I. Mykaylo, M.V. Kryvtsova, V.I. Nikolaichuk
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The aim of our research was to conduct a monitoring study of nitrate content in plant products of Uzhgorod district and to accomplish comparative analysis of the survey results in different periods of crop ripening. Selection of vegetable samples was carried out in Uzhgorod district in the early spring and summer periods. Determination of the nitrate content was performed using an ion-selective method at the Chemical and Toxicological Department of the Regional State Veterinary Medicine Laboratory in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine. Vegetables were tested for nitrate content using the ion-selective method with the laboratory ion meter AI-123. Core investigation samples were crushed and homogenized. A 10.0 g weight of the investigated product, which was prepared according to MIR № 5048-89, was placed in a flat-bottomed or a conical flask, which was then filled with 50 cm3 potassium alumens solution and shaken in a shaking-machine for 5 minutes and then transferred into a measuring glass. The nitrate weight fraction in milligrams per kilogram was obtained together with the weight concentration value of nitrate ions in solution. For our study we selected vegetables grown in both public and private gardens of Uzhgorod district, namely: common onions, radishes, garden parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, white cabbages, carrots and table beets. 25 samples were selected for each type of vegetable. Nitrate content was determined in the early spring growing period (from February 9 to May 27, 2011) and in the summer growing period (from June 3 to September 28, 2011), because in these particular periods we recorded the most frequent cases of food poisoning from nitrates among the population of the region. A clear trend has been traced towards increasing the nitrate content in food plant production, at levels which exceed the maximum permissible concentration (MPC). The results of our research demonstrate that the nitrate content exceeded the maximum permissible concentration in 9 kinds of vegetables out of the 11 selected for the investigation, which composes 82% of total production. In particular, among the selected vegetables an excess of nitrate content, above MPC was recorded in 100% of cucumbers, 92% of carrots, 40% samples of green onions, 40% of radishes, 40% of tomatoes, 28% bell peppers, and 16% of early white cabbages. However, the most significant nitrate excess, which was more than double the MPC, was observed in 56% of cucumbers, 20% of tomatoes, 8% of radishes in the early spring period and 4% of tomatoes in the summer period. Consequently, it has been established that the consumption of early vegetable production contributes to the ingestion by humans of significant amounts of nitrates. The application of an agrochemical system based upon sound measurement of the nitrate content would allow us to solve the task of increasing soil fertility and to form a deficit-free and positive balance of biogenic elements and humus in the "soil – plant – fertilizer" system and develop a system of crop production which is balanced in its chemical composition and nutritional value. To sum up, detailed determination of the factors that lead to the accumulation of nitrates in vegetable crops and the development of methods to reduce nitrate concentrations in crop production require further investigation.