A simple approach to identify critical source areas for phosphorus leaching in the Netherlands

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademic


    High soil phopshorus contents in agricultural soils in the Netherlands cause excessive losses of P to surfacewaters. The reductions in P application rates in the present manure policy are not sufficient to reach surfacewater quality standards resulting from the European Water Framework Directive in all catchments by 2015.Accordingly, additional measures have to be considered to further reduce P loading to surface water. For a costeffective implementation of these measures an instrument to identify critical source areas for phosphorus leachingis indispensable. In the Netherlands phosphorus leaching at a national scale is simulated with a comprehensivemechanistic simulation model (STONE, Wolf et al., 2005) focusing on changes in P leaching with time. Theidentification of critical source areas requires simulations at a high spatial resolution. STONE is less suitable forthis purpose, because of the large number of input parameters required by this complex model. For this reason, asimple model (PLEASE: Phosphorus LEAching from Soils to the Environment; Schoumans et al., in prep.) hasbeen developed based on the same mechanistic process description for inorganic P as the complex model STONEand a simplified description of the lateral flow of water from soil to surface waters. With this model P leachingto surface waters can be calculated using readily available information of field characteristics like depth of thegroundwater table, precipitation surplus and P status and phosphorus adsorption capacity of the soil.To evaluate the performance of the model, it was applied to the Netherlands using the same input as thenational model. Parameterised in this way, PLEASE is a metamodel of STONE. The model was also testedon two small catchments: a catchment with sandy soils and high P accumulation and a clay catchment with amoderate P accumulation. The application at the national scale showed that the overall order of magnitude ofthe calculated leaching fluxes was quite comparable with results of the complex model. However, for individualfields, differences between the two models are sometimes considerable due to differences in the distribution ofthe lateral water fluxes with depth. The application at the catchment scale showed a good agreement betweenmeasured and simulated year average discharge of water and phosphorus. The simulated maps of P leaching forthe two catchments appeared to be plausible with highest P leaching fluxes in intensively used agricultural fieldsin wet areas close to brooks and rivers.Wolf, J. et al. (2005), The integrated modeling system STONE for calculating nutrient emissions fromagriculture in the Netherlands. Environmental Modeling and Software 18, 597-617.Schoumans, O.F., P. Groenendijk and C. van der Salm (in prep.). PLEASE: A simple procedure to determineP losses by leaching
    Original languageDutch
    Pages (from-to)EGU2009-3623
    JournalGeophysical Research Abstracts
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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