Identification of critical source areas for erosion and phosphorus losses in small agricultural catchment in central Sweden

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Identification of main contributing sources and critical source areas is a precondition for a cost-effective abatement strategy. This task is even more complicated in small ungauged catchments where inadequate amount of input, calibration, and validation data exists and thereby limit the application of process-based, parameter-heavy models. In this study, we present methodology to assess spatial variations in erosion and P losses, and based on source-apportionment and erosion modeling, to develop a base for source- and site-specific abatement countermeasures. Water quality monitoring program was developed to cover spatial variability in erosion and phosphorus (P) losses. Conducted soil survey detected high variations in soil P content within the catchment and strong correlation between soil P test and easily soluble P. A simple water balance model, calibrated for the comparable catchment with existing water flow measurements, was applied to determine water discharge, providing necessary input data for calculations of loads and source-apportionment. Source-apportionment modeling based on results from water discharge modeling, water quality monitoring program and soil survey identified P losses from arable fields as main source of P to two small lakes situated in the catchment, contributing roughly a half of total P load to the lakes. Inclusion of an assumed but previously undocumented point source considerably improved the performance of source-apportionment model. Existence of such a point-source was afterwards confirmed by results from detailed water quality monitoring program. Erosion modeling based on high-resolution digital elevation data identified areas most prone to erosion, and model results were compared to farmers' observations and analyses of 137Cs. Use of a spectrum of models and assessment tools formed a broad support for further steps in abatement efforts, and created concrete discussion base for implementation of detailed site-specific countermeasures.

Keywords: Erosion; eutrophication; modeling; monitoring; phosphorus; risk assessment

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden 2: County Administrative Board of Dalarna, Falun, Sweden

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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