Nutrient Losses by Runoff and Sediment from the Taluses of Orchard Terraces

V.H. Duran Zuazo, A. Martinez Ray, J. Aguilar Ruiz

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32 Citations (Scopus)


The nutrient fluxes of nitrate, ammonium, phosphorus and potassium in runoff and sediments were evaluated over a two-year period (1999¿2000) on the taluses of terraces, in a zone of intense subtropical orchard cultivation (SE Spain). The erosion plots were located on a terrace of 214% (65°) slope, at 180 m in altitude and with 16 m2 (4 × 4 m) in area. Shrubby covers were tested for effectiveness in controlling the nutrient fluxes caused by runoff and sediments. Covers of Thymusserpylloides Bory sbsp. Gadorensis and Salvia officinalis L. reduced the NO3 - runoff losses by 53 and 48%, with respect to the bare soil without natural vegetation, the NH-4 + 61 and 56%; the PO4 -3 65 and 56%; and K+ 58 and 46%, respectively. A greater proportion of NO3 -, NH-4 + and K+ were transported in runoff than in sediments. Thyme and sage with respect to the control reduced NO3 - loss in sediments by 74 and 65%, NH-4 + by 71 and 62%, P by 72 and 67%, and K by 69 and 61%, respectively. The total loss (runoff and sediments) in the bare-soil plot for NPK was 260, 39 and 888 mg m-2 yr-1, in the sage plot 119, 15 and 460 mg m-2 yr-1, and in the thyme plot 105, 12 and 360 mg m-2 yr-1, respectively. The results show the importance of the plant covers in soil conservation and in the recycling of nutrients on terrace slopes. This has far-reaching implications in the sense that the control of pollution from erosion is vital in reducing the eutrophication of both surface waters and groundwater located in lowlands
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-373
JournalWater Air and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • soil-erosion
  • phosphorus
  • transport
  • cover

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