Setting goals for agricultural nitrogen emission reduction to ensure safe air and groundwater quality: A case study of Quzhou, the North China Plain

Fanlei Meng, Reinder Ronda, Maryna Strokal, Carolien Kroeze, Lin Ma, Maarten Krol, Inge de Graaf, Yuanhong Zhao, Yutong Wang, Xiaohui Du, Xuejun Liu, Wen Xu*, Fusuo Zhang, Mengru Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Setting nitrogen (N) emission targets for agricultural systems is crucial to prevent to air and groundwater pollution, yet such targets are rarely defined at the county level. In this study, we employed a forecasting-and-back casting approach to establish human health-based nitrogen targets for air and groundwater quality in Quzhou county, located in the North China Plain. By adopting the World Health Organization (WHO) phase I standard for PM2.5 concentration (35 μg m−3) and a standard of 11.3 mg NO3-N L−1 for nitrate in drinking water, we found that ammonia (NH3) emissions from the entire county must be reduced by at least 3.2 kilotons year−1 in 2050 to meet the WHO's PM2.5 phase I standard. Additionally, controlling other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) is necessary, with required reductions ranging from 16% to 64% during 2017–2050. Furthermore, to meet the groundwater quality standard, nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) leaching to groundwater should not exceed 0.8 kilotons year-1 by 2050. Achieving this target would require a 50% reduction in NH3 emissions and a 21% reduction in NO3-N leaching from agriculture in Quzhou in 2050 compared to their respective levels in 2017 (5.0 and 2.1 kilotons, respectively). Our developed method and the resulting N emission targets can support the development of environmentally-friendly agriculture by facilitating the design of control strategies to minimize agricultural N losses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119737
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume351
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Air quality
  • Ammonia emission
  • Groundwater quality
  • Nitrate leaching
  • Nitrogen emission targets

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