SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:Simulating land management options to reduce nitrate pollution in an agricultural watershed dominated by an alluvial aquifer 
Authors:Cerro, I., I. Antiguedad, R. Srinavasan, S. Sauvage, M. Volk and J.M. Sanchez-Perez 
Journal:Journal of Environmental Quality 
Volume (Issue):43(1) 
Article ID: 
URL (non-DOI journals): 
Broad Application Category:hydrologic and pollutant 
Primary Application Category:BMP and/or cropping system assessment 
Secondary Application Category:nitrogen cycling/loss and transport 
Watershed Description:113 km^2 Alegria River, located in the Bosque region in northern Spain. 
Calibration Summary: 
Validation Summary: 
General Comments:This article is part of the JEQ SWAT special section. 
Abstract:The study area (Alegria watershed, Basque Country, Northern Spain) considered here is influenced by an important alluvial aquifer that plays a significant role in nitrate pollution from agricultural land use and management practices. Nitrates are transported primarily from the soil to the river through the alluvial aquifer. The agricultural activity covers 75% of the watershed and is located in a nitrate-vulnerable zone. The main objective of the study was to find land management options for water pollution abatement by using model systems. In a first step, the SWAT model was applied to simulate discharge and nitrate load in stream flow at the outlet of the catchment for the period between October 2009 and June 2011. The LOADEST program was used to estimate the daily nitrate load from measured nitrate concentration. We achieved satisfactory simulation results for discharge and nitrate loads at monthly and daily time steps. The results revealed clear variations in the seasons: higher nitrate loads were achieved for winter (20,000 kg mo−1 NO3–N), and lower nitrate loads were simulated for the summer (<1000 kg mo-1 NO3–N) period. In a second step, the calibrated model was used to evaluate the long-term effects of best management practices (BMPs) for a 50-yr period by maintaining actual agricultural practices, reducing fertilizer application by 20%, splitting applications (same total N but applied over the growing period), and reducing 20% of the applied fertilizer amount and splitting the fertilizer doses. The BMPs were evaluated on the basis of local experience and farmer interaction. Results showed that reducing fertilizer amounts by 20% could lead to a reduction of 50% of the number of days exceeding the nitrate concentration limit value (50 mg L-1) set by the European Water Framework Directive.