Evaluation and management of the impact of land use change on the nitrogen and phosphorus load delivered to surface waters: the export coefficient modelling approach

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A manageable, relatively inexpensive model was constructed to predict the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus from a complex catchment to its drainage system. The model used an export coefficient approach, calculating the total nitrogen (N) and total phosphorus (P) load delivered annually to a water body as the sum of the individual loads exported from each nutrient source in its catchment. The export coefficient modelling approach permits scaling up from plot-scale experiments to the catchment scale, allowing application of findings from field experimental studies at a suitable scale for catchment management. The catchment of the River Windrush, a tributary of the River Thames, UK, was selected as the initial study site. The Windrush model predicted nitrogen and phosphorus loading within 2% of observed total nitrogen load and 0.5% of observed total phosphorus load in 1989. The export coefficient modelling approach was then validated by application in a second research basin, the catchment of Slapton Ley, south Devon, which has markedly different catchment hydrology and land use. The Slapton model was calibrated within 2% of observed total nitrogen load and 2.5% of observed total phosphorus load in 1986. Both models proved sensitive to the impact of temporal changes in land use and management on water quality in both catchments, and were therefore used to evaluate the potential impact of proposed pollution control strategies on the nutrient loading delivered to the River Windrush and Slapton Ley
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)323-349
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 1996

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