© 2016 Elsevier B.V. Adsorption using low-cost adsorbents is a favourable water treatment method for the removal of water contaminants. In this study the enhanced removal of nitrate, a contaminant at elevated concentration affecting human health and causing eutrophication of water, was tested using chemically modified agricultural wastes as adsorbents. Batch and fixed-bed adsorption studies were performed on corn cob and coconut copra that were surface modified by amine-grafting to increase the surface positive charges. The Langmuir nitrate adsorption capacities (mg N/g) were 49.9 and 59.0 for the amine-grafted (AG) corn cob and coconut copra, respectively at pH 6.5 and ionic strength 1 × 10-3 M NaCl. These values are higher than those of many commercially available anion exchange resins. Fixed-bed (15-cm height) adsorption capacities (mg N/g) calculated from the breakthrough curves were 15.3 and 18.6 for AG corn cob and AG coconut copra, respectively, for an influent nitrate concentration 20 mg N/L at a flow velocity 5 m/h. Nitrate adsorption decreased in the presence of sulphate, phosphate and chloride, with sulphate being the most competitive anion. The Thomas model fitted well to the fixed-bed adsorption data from four repeated adsorption/desorption cycles. Plug-flow model fitted well to the data from only the first cycle.