Determination of nitrogen reduction levels necessary to reach groundwater quality targets in Slovenia


Miso Andelov , Ralf Kunkel , Jože Uhan , Frank Wendland

DOI:10.1016/j.jes.2014.06.027

Received November 02, 2013,Revised February 08, 2014, Accepted , Available online September 10, 2014

Volume 26,2014,Pages 1806-1817

Within a collaborative project between Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO) and Research Center Jülich (FZJ), nitrogen reduction levels necessary to reach groundwater quality targets in Slovenia were assessed. For this purpose the hydrological model GROWA-DENUZ was coupled with agricultural N balances and applied consistently to the whole territory of Slovenia in a spatial resolution of 100 × 100 m. GROWA was used to determine the water balance in Slovenia for the hydrologic period 1971-2000. Simultaneously, the displaceable N load in soil was assessed from agricultural Slovenian N surpluses for 2011 and the atmospheric N deposition. Subsequently, the DENUZ model was used to assess the nitrate degradation in soil and, in combination with the percolation water rates from the GROWA model, to determine nitrate concentration in the leachate. The areas showing predicted nitrate concentrations in the leachate above the EU groundwater quality standard of 50 mg NO3-/L have been identified as priority areas for implementing nitrogen reduction measures. For these “hot spot” areas DENUZ was used in a backward mode to quantify the maximal permissible nitrogen surplus levels in agriculture to guarantee a nitrate concentration in percolation water below 50 mg NO3-/L. Model results indicate that additional N reduction measures should be implemented in priority areas rather than area-covering. Research work will directly support the implementation of the European Union Water Framework Directive in Slovenia, e.g., by using the maximal permissible nitrogen surplus levels as a framework for the derivation of regionally adapted and hence effective nitrogen reduction measures.

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