Special Issue "Hydrological and Chemical Controls on Nutrient and Contaminant Loss to Water in Agricultural Landscapes"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Aquatic Systems—Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Per-Erik Mellander
Website
Guest Editor
Agricultural Catchments Programme, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle Environmental Research Centre, Wexford, Co. Wexford, Ireland
Interests: water quality; climate; hydrology; phosphorus; nitrogen; agriculture; rivers; catchment science; ground water; mitigation measures
Dr. Magdalena Bieroza
Website
Guest Editor
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment, Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: water quality; hydrochemistry; biogeochemistry; high-frequency monitoring; agricultural streams
Dr. Miriam Glendell
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Guest Editor
The James Hutton Institute, Environmental and Biochemical Sciences, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Interests: water quality mitigation; water quality modelling; nutrients; Faecal Indicator Organisms; emerging contaminants
Dr. Rémi Dupas
Website
Guest Editor
French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), Rennes, France
Interests: water quality; catchment science; agriculture; nutrient; river network
Dr. Gavan McGrath
Website
Guest Editor
School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Interests: hydrology; water quality; soils; physics; models

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For a sustainable environment and food production, under the increasing pressures of a growing population and changing climate, we need efficient ways to manage nutrients and other contaminants and mitigate their losses to water in agricultural landscapes. To meet this challenge, we need a comprehensive understanding of how hydrological and chemical controls influence the contaminants along the transfer continuum, both over time and space, and in different catchment typologies, while also considering the role of climatic drivers and catchment residence time. This Special Issue welcomes contributions from observational and modelling studies that advance this knowledge and help reshape the thinking of future river catchment management.

Dr. Per-Erik Mellander
Dr. Magdalena Bieroza
Dr. Miriam Glendell
Dr. Rémi Dupas
Dr. Gavan McGrath
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Water quality
  • Agriculture
  • Catchment
  • Climate
  • Management
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrate
  • Pesticide
  • Agro-chemicals
  • Emerging Contaminants

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term (2001–2020) Nutrient Transport from a Small Boreal Agricultural Watershed: Hydrological Control and Potential of Retention Ponds
Water 2020, 12(10), 2731; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102731 - 30 Sep 2020
Abstract
Agriculture contributes significantly to phosphorus and nitrogen loading in southern Finland. Climate change with higher winter air temperatures and precipitation may also promote loading increase further. We analyzed long-term nutrient trends (2001–2020) based on year-round weekly water sampling and daily weather data from [...] Read more.
Agriculture contributes significantly to phosphorus and nitrogen loading in southern Finland. Climate change with higher winter air temperatures and precipitation may also promote loading increase further. We analyzed long-term nutrient trends (2001–2020) based on year-round weekly water sampling and daily weather data from a boreal small agricultural watershed. In addition, nutrient retention was studied in a constructed sedimentation pond system for two years. We did not find any statistically significant trends in weather conditions (temperature, precipitation, discharge, snow depth) except for an increase in discharge in March. Increasing trends in annual concentrations were found for nitrate, phosphate, and total phosphorus and total nitrogen. In fact, phosphate concentration increased in every season and nitrate concentration in other seasons except in autumn. Total phosphorus and total nitrogen concentrations increased in winter as well and total phosphorus also in summer. Increasing annual loading trend was found for total phosphorus, phosphate, and nitrate. Increasing winter loading was found for nitrate and total nitrogen, but phosphate loading increased in winter, spring, and summer. In the pond system, annual retention of total nitrogen was 1.9–4.8% and that of phosphorus 4.3–6.9%. In addition, 25–40% of suspended solids was sedimented in the ponds. Our results suggest that even small ponds can be utilized to decrease nutrient and material transport, but their retention efficiency varies between years. We conclude that nutrient loading from small boreal agricultural catchments, especially in wintertime, has already increased and is likely to increase even further in the future due to climate change. Thus, the need for new management tools to reduce loading from boreal agricultural lands becomes even more acute. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reactive Silica Traces Manure Spreading in Alluvial Aquifers Affected by Nitrate Contamination: A Case Study in a High Plain of Northern Italy
Water 2020, 12(9), 2511; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092511 - 09 Sep 2020
Abstract
In the northern sector of the Po River Plain (Italy), widespread intensive agriculture and animal farming are supported by large amounts of water from Alpine lakes and their emissaries. Flood irrigation and excess fertilization with manure affect both the hydrology and the chemical [...] Read more.
In the northern sector of the Po River Plain (Italy), widespread intensive agriculture and animal farming are supported by large amounts of water from Alpine lakes and their emissaries. Flood irrigation and excess fertilization with manure affect both the hydrology and the chemical quality of surface and groundwater, resulting in diffuse nitrogen pollution. However, studies analyzing the mechanisms linking agricultural practices with vertical and horizontal nitrogen paths are scarce in this area. We investigated groundwater quality and quantity in an unconfined, coarse-grained alluvial aquifer adjacent to the Mincio River (a tributary of the Po River), where steep summer gradients of nitrate (NO3) concentrations are reported. The effects of manure on solutes’ vertical transport during precipitation events in fertilized and in control soils were simulated under laboratory conditions. The results show high SiO2 and NO3 leaching in fertilized soils. Similarly, field data are characterized by high SiO2 and NO3 concentrations, with a comparable spatial distribution but a different temporal evolution, suggesting their common origin but different processes affecting their concentrations in the study area. Our results show that SiO2 can be used as a conservative tracer of manure spreading, as it does not undergo biogeochemical processes that significantly alter its concentrations. On the contrary, nitrate displays large short-term variations related to aquifer recharge (i.e., flood irrigation and precipitation). In fact, aquifer recharge may promote immediate solubilization and stimulate nitrification, resulting in high NO3 concentrations up to 95.9 mg/L, exceeding the Water Framework Directive (WFD) thresholds. When recharge ends, anoxic conditions likely establish in the saturated zone, favoring denitrification and resulting in a steep decrease in NO3 concentrations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identifying Flow Pathways for Phosphorus Transport Using Observed Event Forensics and the CRAFT (Catchment Runoff Attenuation Flux Tool)
Water 2020, 12(4), 1081; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041081 - 10 Apr 2020
Abstract
Identifying key flow pathways is critical in order to understand the transport of Phosphorus (P) from agricultural headwater catchments. High frequency/resolution datasets from two such catchments in Northwest England enabled individual events to be examined to identify the flow (Q) and Total P [...] Read more.
Identifying key flow pathways is critical in order to understand the transport of Phosphorus (P) from agricultural headwater catchments. High frequency/resolution datasets from two such catchments in Northwest England enabled individual events to be examined to identify the flow (Q) and Total P (TP) and Total Reactive P (TRP) dynamics (forensics). Detailed analysis of multiple flow and water quality parameters is referred to here as the event forensics. Are there more flow pathways than just surface runoff (dominated by overland flow) and baseflow (mainly groundwater) contributing at the outlet of these catchments? If so, hydrograph separation alone will not be sufficient. This forensic analysis gives a classification of four storm event response types. Three classes are based on the balance of old and new water giving enrichment and dilution of TRP pattern in the subsurface flow. A fourth type was observed where a plume of nutrient is lost to the channel when there is no observed flow. Modelling is also essential when used in combination with the event forensics as this additional tool can identify distinct flow pathways in a robust form. A case study will apply the Catchment Runoff Attenuation Flux Tool (CRAFT) to two contrasting small headwater catchments in Northwest England, which formed part of the Demonstration Test Catchments (DTC) Programme. The model will use data collected during a series of events observed in the two catchments between the period 2012 and 2014. It has the ability to simulate fast near surface (that can represent flow in the upper soil horizons and field drains) and event subsurface soil flow, plus slower groundwater discharge. The model can capture P enrichment, dilution and the role that displacement of “old” P rich water has during events by mixing these flows. CRAFT captures the dominant flow and P fluxes as seen in the forensic analysis and can create outputs including smart export coefficients (based on flow pathways) that can be conveyed to policy makers to better underpin decision making. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impacts of Tile Drainage on Phosphorus Losses from Edge-of-Field Plots in the Lake Champlain Basin of New York
Water 2020, 12(2), 328; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020328 - 23 Jan 2020
Abstract
Quantifying the influence of tile drainage on phosphorus (P) transport risk is important where eutrophication is a concern. The objective of this study was to compare P exports from tile-drained (TD) and undrained (UD) edge-of-field plots in northern New York. Four plots (46 [...] Read more.
Quantifying the influence of tile drainage on phosphorus (P) transport risk is important where eutrophication is a concern. The objective of this study was to compare P exports from tile-drained (TD) and undrained (UD) edge-of-field plots in northern New York. Four plots (46 by 23 m) were established with tile drainage and surface runoff collection during 2012–2013. Grass sod was terminated in fall 2013 and corn (Zea mays L.) for silage was grown in 2014 and 2015. Runoff, total phosphorus (TP), soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), and total suspended solids (TSS) exports were measured from April 2014 through June 2015. Mean total runoff was 396% greater for TD, however, surface runoff for TD was reduced by 84% compared to UD. There was no difference in mean cumulative TP export, while SRP and TSS exports were 55% and 158% greater for UD, respectively. A three day rain/snowmelt event resulted in 61% and 84% of cumulative SRP exports for TD and UD, respectively, with over 100% greater TP, SRP and TSS exports for UD. Results indicate that tile drainage substantially reduced surface runoff, TSS and SRP exports while having no impact on TP exports, suggesting tile drains may not increase the overall P export risk. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Determining the Impact of Riparian Wetlands on Nutrient Cycling, Storage and Export in Permeable Agricultural Catchments
Water 2020, 12(1), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010167 - 06 Jan 2020
Cited by 2Correction
Abstract
The impact of riparian wetlands on the cycling, retention and export of nutrients from land to water varies according to local environmental conditions and is poorly resolved in catchment management approaches. To determine the role a specific wetland might play in a catchment [...] Read more.
The impact of riparian wetlands on the cycling, retention and export of nutrients from land to water varies according to local environmental conditions and is poorly resolved in catchment management approaches. To determine the role a specific wetland might play in a catchment mitigation strategy, an alternative approach is needed to the high-frequency and spatially detailed monitoring programme that would otherwise be needed. Here, we present a new approach using a combination of novel and well-established geochemical, geophysical and isotope ratio methods. This combined approach was developed and tested against a 2-year high-resolution sampling programme in a lowland permeable wetland in the Lambourn catchment, UK. The monitoring programme identified multiple pathways and water sources feeding into the wetland, generating large spatial and temporal variations in nutrient cycling, retention and export behaviours within the wetland. This complexity of contributing source areas and biogeochemical functions within the wetland were effectively identified using the new toolkit approach. We propose that this technique could be used to determine the likely net source/sink function of riparian wetlands prior to their incorporation into any catchment management plan, with relatively low resource implications when compared to a full high-frequency nutrient speciation and isotope geochemistry-based monitoring approach. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sources and Mechanisms of Low-Flow River Phosphorus Elevations: A Repeated Synoptic Survey Approach
Water 2019, 11(7), 1497; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071497 - 18 Jul 2019
Abstract
High-resolution water quality monitoring indicates recurring elevation of stream phosphorus concentrations during low-flow periods. These increased concentrations may exceed Water Framework Directive (WFD) environmental quality standards during ecologically sensitive periods. The objective of this research was to identify source, mobilization, and pathway factors [...] Read more.
High-resolution water quality monitoring indicates recurring elevation of stream phosphorus concentrations during low-flow periods. These increased concentrations may exceed Water Framework Directive (WFD) environmental quality standards during ecologically sensitive periods. The objective of this research was to identify source, mobilization, and pathway factors controlling in-stream total reactive phosphorus (TRP) concentrations during low-flow periods. Synoptic surveys were conducted in three agricultural catchments during spring, summer, and autumn. Up to 50 water samples were obtained across each watercourse per sampling round. Samples were analysed for TRP and total phosphorus (TP), along with supplementary parameters (temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and oxidation reduction potential). Bed sediment was analysed at a subset of locations for Mehlich P, Al, Ca, and Fe. The greatest percentages of water sampling points exceeding WFD threshold of 0.035 mg L−1 TRP occurred during summer (57%, 11%, and 71% for well-drained, well-drained arable, and poorly drained grassland catchments, respectively). These percentages declined during autumn but did not return to spring concentrations, as winter flushing had not yet occurred. Different controls were elucidated for each catchment: diffuse transport through groundwater and lack of dilution in the well-drained grassland, in-stream mobilization in the well-drained arable, and a combination of point sources and cumulative loading in the poorly drained grassland. Diversity in controlling factors necessitates investigative protocols beyond low-spatial and temporal resolution water sampling and must incorporate both repeated survey and complementary understanding of sediment chemistry and anthropogenic phosphorus sources. Despite similarities in elevation of P at low-flow, catchments will require custom solutions depending on their typology, and both legislative deadlines and target baselines standards must acknowledge these inherent differences. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Mitigating Agricultural Diffuse Pollution: Uncovering the Evidence Base of the Awareness–Behaviour–Water Quality Pathway
Water 2019, 11(1), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010029 - 24 Dec 2018
Cited by 13
Abstract
Diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA) is a major environmental issue worldwide causing eutrophication, human health problems, increased water treatment costs and reducing the recreational potential of water bodies. In addition to penalties and provision of incentives, policy efforts are increasingly focusing on [...] Read more.
Diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA) is a major environmental issue worldwide causing eutrophication, human health problems, increased water treatment costs and reducing the recreational potential of water bodies. In addition to penalties and provision of incentives, policy efforts are increasingly focusing on raising land managers’ awareness regarding diffuse pollution under the expectation that this would influence behaviours and thus increase uptake of best management practices that would, in turn, improve water quality. Given the multimillion financial investments in these awareness-focused approaches, a good understanding of the awareness–behavioural change–water quality pathway is critical to set the basis for assessing the real potential of these policy interventions. We systematically review the evidence across the full pathway drawing on published peer-reviewed papers from both the social and natural sciences, with a focus on Europe and North America. Results indicate that there is no one study that looks at the pathway in full, evidencing the paucity of research on the topic. For the limited studies that focus on the different components of the pathway, we find mixed evidence for the relationship between awareness and behaviour, and behavioural change and water quality. Furthermore, complexity within the pathway (e.g., through the study of factors mediating and moderating such relationships) has hardly been addressed by the literature. An in-depth understanding and analysis of this complexity—through an integrative model covering the entire pathway—could help in the design and implementation of effective policy strategies to encourage best land management practices and ultimately improve water quality. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessCorrection
Correction: Johnes, P.J.; et al. Determining the Impact of Riparian Wetlands on Nutrient Cycling, Storage and Export in Permeable Agricultural Catchments. Water 2020, 12, 167
Water 2020, 12(7), 1859; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12071859 - 28 Jun 2020
Abstract
The authors wish to make the following corrections to this paper [...] Full article
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