The contribution of dairy farming on peat soil to N and P loading of surface water

C.L. Beek, G.A.P.H. van den Eertwegh, F.H. van Schaik, G.L. Velthof, O. Oenema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In agriculturally used peat land areas, surface water quality standards for nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are frequently exceeded, but it is unclear to what extent agriculture is responsible for nutrient loading of the surface water. We quantified the contribution of different sources to the N and P loading of a ditch draining a grassland on peat soil (Terric Histosol) used for dairy farming in the Netherlands. Measurements were performed on N and P discharge at the end of the ditch, supply of N and P via inlet water, mineralization of soil organic matter, slush application, composition of the soil solution, and on N losses through denitrification in the ditch for 2 years (September 2000 to September 2002)
In agriculturally used peat land areas, surface water quality standards for nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are frequently exceeded, but it is unclear to what extent agriculture is responsible for nutrient loading of the surface water. We quantified the contribution of different sources to the N and P loading of a ditch draining a grassland on peat soil (Terric Histosol) used for dairy fanning in the Netherlands. Measurements were performed on N and P discharge at the end of the ditch, supply of N and P via inlet water, mineralization of soil organic matter, slush application, composition of the soil solution, and on N losses through denitrification in the ditch for 2 years (September 2000 to September 2002). Discharge rates at the end of the ditch were 32 kg N ha(-1) y(-1) and 4.7 kg P ha(-1) y(-1). For N, 43 to 50% of the discharge was accounted for by applications of fertilizers, manure and cattle droppings, 17 to 31% by mineralization of soil organic matter, 8 to 27% by nutrient-rich deeper peat layers, 8 to 9% by atmospheric deposition and 3 to 4% by inlet water. For P, these numbers were 10 to 48% for applications of fertilizers, manure and cattle droppings, 2 to 14% mineralization of soil organic matter, 33 to 82% nutrient-rich peat layers and 5 to 6% inlet water. The results of this paper demonstrate that nutrient loading of surface water in peat land areas involves several sources of nutrients, and therefore, reducing one source to reduce nutrient inputs to surface water is likely to result in modest effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-95
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Volume70
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • water pollution
  • denitrification
  • drainage water
  • dairy farming
  • nitrogen
  • phosphorus
  • leaching
  • peat soils
  • netherlands
  • denitrification rates
  • inhibition
  • acetylene
  • balances

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