Soil System Budgets (SSB) of nutrients are generally performed annually over arable land to infer their use efficiency and water pollution risk in highly exploited agricultural watersheds. They are seldom partitioned into seasonal budgets and matched with seasonal nutrient transport in adjacent river reaches. We calculated seasonal soil nitrogen (N) budgets in a Mincio River sub-basin (Italy), and we analyzed the dissolved inorganic N net export in the river reach draining such sub-basin. Our results show seasonal differences of SSB with N excess in winter and even more in spring, equilibrium among sources and sinks during autumn and N deficit during summer. Seasonal inorganic N loads transported by the river were not correlated with SSB as they peaked in late summer and were at their minimum in early spring. Fertilization uncoupled to significant uptake supports N excess in winter and spring, whereas crop uptake uncoupled to N inputs supports summer N deficit. Nitrification cannot explain nitrate accumulation in the river reach, suggesting alternative dynamics driving the local hydrology. Flood irrigation results in large soil nitrate solubilization, transport and in upward migration of the groundwater piezometric head during spring and summer periods. River water is likely replaced by nitrate-rich groundwater when the groundwater recharge exceeds a certain threshold coinciding with late summer. Irrigation is then interrupted and the piezometric head, together with nitrate exchange, decreases. This work suggests that a deep understanding of N dynamics in agricultural watersheds with flooding irrigation on permeable soils needs the reconstruction of the vertical pathways of nitrate and of river-groundwater interactions. Moreover, the partitioning of annual into seasonal N budgets and their combination with irrigation practices allows the identification of hot moments in N cycling. Agricultural practices minimizing nitrate excess, its mobility and the risk of surface and groundwater pollution are suggested for this area.

Agricultural practices regulate the seasonality of groundwater-river nitrogen exchanges

Soana, Elisa
Secondo
;
2022

Abstract

Soil System Budgets (SSB) of nutrients are generally performed annually over arable land to infer their use efficiency and water pollution risk in highly exploited agricultural watersheds. They are seldom partitioned into seasonal budgets and matched with seasonal nutrient transport in adjacent river reaches. We calculated seasonal soil nitrogen (N) budgets in a Mincio River sub-basin (Italy), and we analyzed the dissolved inorganic N net export in the river reach draining such sub-basin. Our results show seasonal differences of SSB with N excess in winter and even more in spring, equilibrium among sources and sinks during autumn and N deficit during summer. Seasonal inorganic N loads transported by the river were not correlated with SSB as they peaked in late summer and were at their minimum in early spring. Fertilization uncoupled to significant uptake supports N excess in winter and spring, whereas crop uptake uncoupled to N inputs supports summer N deficit. Nitrification cannot explain nitrate accumulation in the river reach, suggesting alternative dynamics driving the local hydrology. Flood irrigation results in large soil nitrate solubilization, transport and in upward migration of the groundwater piezometric head during spring and summer periods. River water is likely replaced by nitrate-rich groundwater when the groundwater recharge exceeds a certain threshold coinciding with late summer. Irrigation is then interrupted and the piezometric head, together with nitrate exchange, decreases. This work suggests that a deep understanding of N dynamics in agricultural watersheds with flooding irrigation on permeable soils needs the reconstruction of the vertical pathways of nitrate and of river-groundwater interactions. Moreover, the partitioning of annual into seasonal N budgets and their combination with irrigation practices allows the identification of hot moments in N cycling. Agricultural practices minimizing nitrate excess, its mobility and the risk of surface and groundwater pollution are suggested for this area.
2022
Pinardi, Monica; Soana, Elisa; Severini, Edoardo; Racchetti, Erica; Celico, Fulvio; Bartoli, Marco
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2493643
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