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CAMARILLO : Water Study Seeks to Lower Nitrate Levels

Scientists have launched a research project at an avocado ranch to find ways of reducing ground water contamination caused by nitrogen-based fertilizers.

The five-year study began last month at a four-acre orchard at Broome Ranch, said Mary Lu Arpaia, a horticulturist at the UC Riverside.

Scientists hope to find ways of limiting the amount of fertilizers used in the avocado groves without reducing the crop yield, University of California farm adviser Ben Faber said.

Some ground water basins in Ventura County have been found to be contaminated with nitrates, a byproduct of chemical fertilizers that seep into the aquifer from irrigated fields. Nitrates have been linked to a syndrome that causes infants to suffocate from lack of oxygen, Faber said.

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