Dissolved phosphorus transport from soil to surface water in catchments with different land use

Dries Verheyen, Nele Van Gaelen, Benedicta Ronchi, Okke Batelaan, Eric Struyf, Gerard Govers, Roel Merckx, Jan Diels

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Diffuse phosphorus (P) export from agricultural land to surface waters is a significant environmental problem. It is critical to determine the natural background P losses from diffuse sources, but their identification and quantification is difficult. In this study, three headwater catchments with differing land use (arable, pasture and forest) were monitored for 3 years to quantify exports of dissolved (<0.45 µm) reactive P and total dissolved P. Mean total P exports from the arable catchment ranged between 0.08 and 0.28 kg ha−1 year−1. Compared with the reference condition (forest), arable land and pasture exported up to 11-fold more dissolved P. The contribution of dissolved (<0.45 µm) unreactive P was low to negligible in every catchment. Agricultural practices can exert large pressures on surface waters that are controlled by hydrological factors. Adapting policy to cope with these factors is needed for lowering these pressures in the future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)228-240
    Number of pages13
    JournalAmbio
    Volume44
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Keywords

    • Dissolved P
    • Headwater catchment
    • Land use
    • Pathways

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