Hot moments and hot spots of nutrient losses from a mixed land use watershed

Qing Zhu, John P. Schmidt, Ray B. Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Non-point nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) pollution from agriculture has increasingly received more public attention. In this study, NO 3-N, dissolved P (DP) and particulate P (PP) concentrations and loads were investigated for four sub-basins (labeled 1-4 going up the watershed) within a mixed land use watershed (39.5ha) in the Appalachian Valley and Ridge Physiographic Province. The hot moments of NO 3-N concentration and load occurred in base flow and during the non-growing season. Great and temporally variable DP and PP concentrations were observed in storm flow. The hot moments of DP concentration and load were in storm flow from May to December and from September to Nov, respectively, while the hot moments of PP concentration and load were in storm flow from January to June. The NO 3-N, DP, and PP loads were compared for all four sub-basins on a loss per length of stream reach basis to determine the hot spots and their corresponding losses. The hot spots and hot moments of NO 3-N loads were in Sub-basins 1 and 4 during the non-growing season base flow period and Sub-basin 2 during the post-growing season base flow period (>110gm -1mo -1). The hot spots of DP loads were also in Sub-basins 1 and 4, but during the growing and post-growing season storm flow period (>1.4gm -1mo -1). In contrast, the hot spots and hot moments of PP load were in Sub-basin 3 during the pre-growing and growing season storm flow, as much as 13.4 and 14.1gm -1mo -1, respectively. Controlling factors of nutrient export were discussed in this study, including season, hydrology (base flow, storm flow, surface and subsurface runoff), and land use. Although different hot moments and hot spots within the watershed were identified for NO 3-N, DP, and PP losses, the implementation of a couple of management practices (cover crops and no-till) might be sufficient to effectively reduce nutrient losses from this and similar Valley and Ridge watersheds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-404
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume414-415
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 11 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology

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