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Analysis of nitrate pollution pathways on a vulnerable agricultural plain in Slovenia

  • Curk, Miha
  • Glavan, Matjaž
  • Pintar, Marina
Publication Date
Nov 17, 2021
University of Ljubljana
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Groundwater pollution with nitrate of agricultural origin is a major problem in many countries. A great deal of effort is focused on finding ways to reduce leaching from agricultural land. In this study, different land management scenarios were evaluated with the SWAT model in order to determine which are the most effective in reducing nitrate leaching on specific soil types in the Krška kotlina alluvial plain (Slovenia). The area is very important both for agriculture production and drinking water resources. The model was calibrated for three soil moisture field trial sites, each representing one major soil type of the area. Simulated soil moisture values were in good agreement with the observed values (PBIAS (percent bias) ±25%). Of the nine land management scenarios that were evaluated, vegetable rotation caused the most nitrate leaching on all soil types, but it fared better on Cambisol than on Fluvisol. Orchards on the other hand leached the least amount of nitrate, but also fared better on Cambisol. Presented studies should be considered as a preliminary stage in the study of nitrate pollution in the investigated area. Results show that nitrate leaching varies for different land management scenarios on different soil types. Further work should concentrate on field trials to evaluate the impacts of reduced fertilization on nitrate leaching and both crop yield and quality on different soil types.

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