Leaching of nitrogen in Swedish agriculture - A historical perspective
2000 (English)In: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, ISSN 0167-8809, Vol. 80, no 3, 277-290 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
There is a need to examine long-term changes in nitrogen leaching from arable soils. The purpose of this study was to analyse variations in specific leaching rates (kg ha-1 per year) and gross load (Mg per year) of N from arable land to watercourses in Sweden from a historical perspective. The start of the study was set to 1865 because information on crop distribution, yield and livestock has been compiled yearly since then. The SOIL/SOILN model was used to calculate nitrogen leaching. Calculations were done for cereals, grass and bare fallow for three different soil types in nine agricultural regions covering a range of climatic conditions. Results indicate that both specific leaching rates and gross load of nitrogen in the middle of 19th century were approximately the same as they are today for the whole of south and central Sweden. Three main explanations for this were (1) large areas of bare fallow typical for the farming practice at the time, (2) enhanced mineralisation from newly cultivated land, and (3) low yield. From 1865, i.e. the start of the calculations, N leaching rates decreased and were at their lowest around 1930. During the same period, gross load was also at its lowest despite the fact that the acreage of arable land was at its most extensive. After 1930, average leaching increased by 60% and gross load by 30%, both reaching a peak in the mid-1970s to be followed by a declining trend. The greatest increase in leaching was in regions where the increase in animal density was largest and these regions were also those where the natural conditions for leaching such as mild winters and coarse-textured soils were found. Extensive draining projects occurred during the period of investigation, in particular an intensive exploitation of lakes and wetlands. This caused a substantial drop in nitrogen retention and the probable increase in net load to the sea might thus have been more affected by this decrease in retention than the actual increase in gross load. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. Vol. 80, no 3, 277-290 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-47508DOI: 10.1016/S0167-8809(00)00154-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-47508DiVA: diva2:268404