Aquatic environment

Nitrate in shallow groundwater in typical agricultural and forest ecosystems in China, 2004-2010

Xinyu Zhang , Zhiwei Xu , Xiaomin Sun , Wenyi Dong , Deborah Ballantine


Received August 10, 2012,Revised October 19, 2012, Accepted , Available online May 09, 2013

Volume ,2013,Pages 1007-1014

The nitrate-nitrogen (NO3--N) concentrations from shallow groundwater wells situated in 29 of the Chinese Ecosystem Research Network field stations, representing typical agro- and forest ecosystems, were assessed using monitoring data collected between 2004 and 2010. Results from this assessment permit a national scale assessment of nitrate concentrations in shallow groundwater, and allow linkages between nitrate concentrations in groundwater and broad land use categories to be made. Results indicated that most of the NO3--N concentrations in groundwater from the agro- and forest ecosystems were below the Class 3 drinking water standard stated in the Chinese National Standard: Quality Standard for Ground Water (≤20 mg/L). Over the study period, the average NO3--N concentrations were significantly higher in agro-ecosystems (4.1±0.33 mg/L) than in forest ecosystems (0.5±0.04 mg/L). NO3--N concentrations were relatively higher (> 10 mg N /L) in 10 of the 43 wells sampled in the agricultural ecosystems. These elevated concentrations occurred mainly in the Ansai,Yucheng, Linze, Fukang, Akesu, and Cele field sites, which were located in arid and semi-arid areas where irrigation rates are high. We suggest that improvements in N fertilizer application and irrigation management practices in the arid and semi-arid agricultural ecosystems of China are the key to managing groundwater nitrate concentrations.

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