Diffuse nitrogen loss simulation and impact assessment of stereoscopic agriculture pattern by integrated water system model and consideration of multiple existence forms

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Journal Article
Journal of Hydrology, 2017, 552 pp. 660 - 673
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Agricultural nitrogen loss becomes an increasingly important source of water quality deterioration and eutrophication, even threatens water safety for humanity. Nitrogen dynamic mechanism is still too complicated to be well captured at watershed scale due to its multiple existence forms and instability, disturbance of agricultural management practices. Stereoscopic agriculture is a novel agricultural planting pattern to efficiently use local natural resources (e.g., water, land, sunshine, heat and fertilizer). It is widely promoted as a high yield system and can obtain considerable economic benefits, particularly in China. However, its environmental quality implication is not clear. In our study, Qianyanzhou station is famous for its stereoscopic agriculture pattern of Southern China, and an experimental watershed was selected as our study area. Regional characteristics of runoff and nitrogen losses were simulated by an integrated water system model (HEQM) with multi-objective calibration, and multiple agriculture practices were assessed to find the effective approach for the reduction of diffuse nitrogen losses. Results showed that daily variations of runoff and nitrogen forms were well reproduced throughout watershed, i.e., satisfactory performances for ammonium and nitrate nitrogen (NH4-N and NO3-N) loads, good performances for runoff and organic nitrogen (ON) load, and very good performance for total nitrogen (TN) load. The average loss coefficient was 62.74 kg/ha for NH4-N, 0.98 kg/ha for NO3-N, 0.0004 kg/ha for ON and 63.80 kg/ha for TN. The dominating form of nitrogen losses was NH4-N due to the applied fertilizers, and the most dramatic zones aggregated in the middle and downstream regions covered by paddy and orange orchard. In order to control diffuse nitrogen losses, the most effective practices for Qianyanzhou stereoscopic agriculture pattern were to reduce farmland planting scale in the valley by afforestation, particularly for orchard in the downstream regions, followed by fertilizer application optimization.
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