Regional Variability of Agriculturally-Derived Nitrate-Nitrogen in Shallow Groundwater in China, 2004–2014 (2018)

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© 2018 by the author. Increasing diffuse nitrate loading of groundwater has long been a major environmental and health concern in China, but little is known about the spatial and temporal variability of nitrate concentrations in groundwater at regional scales. The aim of this study was to assess the spatial distribution and variation of nitrate-nitrogen (NO 3 - -N) concentrations in groundwater. We used groundwater quality monitoring data and soil physical characteristics from 21 agro-ecosystems in China for years 2004 to 2014. The results indicated that NO 3 - -N concentrations were highly variable in shallow groundwater across the landscape. Over the study period, most of the NO 3 - -N concentrations were below the World Health Organization permissible limit for drinking water ( < 10 mg N•L). NO 3 - -N concentrations in groundwater neither significantly increased nor decreased in most agro-ecosystems, but fluctuated with seasons. In addition, groundwater NO 3 - -N under purple soil (6.81 mg•L -1 ) and Aeolian sandy soil (6.02 mg•L -1 ) were significantly higher (p < 0.05) than that under other soil types, and it was medium-high (4.49 mg•L -1 ) under aquic cinnamon soil. Elevated nitrate concentrations occurred mainly in oasis agricultural areas of northwestern China, where farmlands with coarse-textured soils use flood irrigation. Therefore, arid and semi-arid areas are expected to sustain high NO 3 - -N concentrations in groundwater. Mitigation strategies can prevent this problem, and include control of N fertilizer input, balanced fertilization, proper rotation system, adoption of improved irrigation methods, and establishment of environmental policies.
Year: 2018
Language: English
In: Sustainability, 10 (5): 1393-1393 p.

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 Record created 2018-09-21, last modified 2018-09-21