N leaching to groundwater from dairy production involving grazing over the winter on a clay-loam soil

M. Necpalova, O. Fenton, I. Casey, J. Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigated concentrations of various N species in shallow groundwater (<2.2m below ground level) and N losses from dairy production involving grazing over the winter period on a clay loam soil with a high natural attenuation capacity in southern Ireland (52°51'N, 08°21'W) over a 2-year period. A dense network of shallow groundwater piezometers was installed to determine groundwater flow direction and N spatial and temporal variation. Estimated vertical travel times through the unsaturated zone (<0.5yr, time lag) allowed the correlation of management with groundwater N within a short space of time. There was a two way interaction of the system and sampling date (P<0.05) on concentrations of DON, oxidised N and NO3--N. In contrast, concentrations of NH4+-N and NO2--N were unaffected by the dairy system. Grazing over the winter had no effect on N losses to groundwater. Mean concentrations of DON, NH4+-N, NO2--N and NO3--N were 2.16, 0.35, 0.01 and 0.37mgL-1 respectively. Soil attenuation processes such as denitrification and DNRA resulted in increased NH4+-N levels. For this reason, DON and NH4+-N represented the highest proportion of N losses from the site. Some of the spatial and temporal variation of N concentrations was explained by correlations with selected chemical and hydro-topographical parameters (NO3--N/Cl- ratio, distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor, watertable depth, depth of sampling piezometer, DOC concentration). A high explanatory power of NO3--N/Cl- ratio and the distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor indicated the influence of point sources and groundwater-surface water interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume432
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2012

Keywords

  • DNRA
  • Extended grazing
  • N leaching
  • Permanent grassland
  • Shallow groundwater
  • Time lag

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