Estimation of nitrogen budgets for contrasting catchments at the landscape scale

E Vogt, CF Braban, U Dragosits, MR Theobald, MF Billett, AJ Dore, YS Tang, N van Dijk, RM Rees, C Mcdonald, S Murray, UM Skiba, M Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A comprehensive assessment of nitrogen (N) flows at the landscape scale is fundamental to understand spatial interactions in the N cascade and to inform the development of locally optimised N management strategies. To explore these interactions, complete N budgets were estimated for two contrasting hydrological catchments (dominated by agricultural grassland vs. semi-natural peat-dominated moorland), forming part of an intensively studied landscape in southern Scotland. Local scale atmospheric dispersion modelling and detailed farm and field inventories provided high resolution estimations of input fluxes. Direct agricultural inputs (i.e. grazing excreta, N2 fixation, organic and synthetic fertiliser) accounted for most of the catchment N inputs, representing 82% in the grassland and 62% in the moorland catchment, while atmospheric deposition made a significant contribution, particularly in the moorland catchment, contributing 38% of the N inputs. The estimated catchment N budgets highlighted areas of key uncertainty, particularly N2 exchange and stream N export. The resulting N balances suggest that the study catchments have a limited capacity to store N within soils, vegetation and groundwater. The “catchment N retention”, i.e. the amount of N which is either stored within the catchment or lost through atmospheric emissions, was estimated to be 13% of the net anthropogenic input in the moorland and 61% in the grassland catchment. These values contrast with regional scale estimates: Catchment retentions of net anthropogenic input estimated within Europe at the regional scale range from 50% to 90 %, with an average of 82% (Billen et al., 2011). This study emphasises the need for detailed budget analyses to identify the N status of European landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8989 - 9028
Number of pages40
JournalBiogeosciences
Volume9
Publication statusFirst published - 2012

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catchment
nitrogen
moorland
grassland
budget
atmospheric deposition
fixation
peat
grazing
farm
groundwater
vegetation
soil

Bibliographical note

52740014

Keywords

  • Catchment
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrogen budget

Cite this

Vogt, E., Braban, CF., Dragosits, U., Theobald, MR., Billett, MF., Dore, AJ., ... Sutton, M. (2012). Estimation of nitrogen budgets for contrasting catchments at the landscape scale. Biogeosciences, 9, 8989 - 9028.
Vogt, E ; Braban, CF ; Dragosits, U ; Theobald, MR ; Billett, MF ; Dore, AJ ; Tang, YS ; van Dijk, N ; Rees, RM ; Mcdonald, C ; Murray, S ; Skiba, UM ; Sutton, M. / Estimation of nitrogen budgets for contrasting catchments at the landscape scale. In: Biogeosciences. 2012 ; Vol. 9. pp. 8989 - 9028.
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Vogt, E, Braban, CF, Dragosits, U, Theobald, MR, Billett, MF, Dore, AJ, Tang, YS, van Dijk, N, Rees, RM, Mcdonald, C, Murray, S, Skiba, UM & Sutton, M 2012, 'Estimation of nitrogen budgets for contrasting catchments at the landscape scale', Biogeosciences, vol. 9, pp. 8989 - 9028.

Estimation of nitrogen budgets for contrasting catchments at the landscape scale. / Vogt, E; Braban, CF; Dragosits, U; Theobald, MR; Billett, MF; Dore, AJ; Tang, YS; van Dijk, N; Rees, RM; Mcdonald, C; Murray, S; Skiba, UM; Sutton, M.

In: Biogeosciences, Vol. 9, 2012, p. 8989 - 9028.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Estimation of nitrogen budgets for contrasting catchments at the landscape scale

AU - Vogt, E

AU - Braban, CF

AU - Dragosits, U

AU - Theobald, MR

AU - Billett, MF

AU - Dore, AJ

AU - Tang, YS

AU - van Dijk, N

AU - Rees, RM

AU - Mcdonald, C

AU - Murray, S

AU - Skiba, UM

AU - Sutton, M

N1 - 52740014

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - A comprehensive assessment of nitrogen (N) flows at the landscape scale is fundamental to understand spatial interactions in the N cascade and to inform the development of locally optimised N management strategies. To explore these interactions, complete N budgets were estimated for two contrasting hydrological catchments (dominated by agricultural grassland vs. semi-natural peat-dominated moorland), forming part of an intensively studied landscape in southern Scotland. Local scale atmospheric dispersion modelling and detailed farm and field inventories provided high resolution estimations of input fluxes. Direct agricultural inputs (i.e. grazing excreta, N2 fixation, organic and synthetic fertiliser) accounted for most of the catchment N inputs, representing 82% in the grassland and 62% in the moorland catchment, while atmospheric deposition made a significant contribution, particularly in the moorland catchment, contributing 38% of the N inputs. The estimated catchment N budgets highlighted areas of key uncertainty, particularly N2 exchange and stream N export. The resulting N balances suggest that the study catchments have a limited capacity to store N within soils, vegetation and groundwater. The “catchment N retention”, i.e. the amount of N which is either stored within the catchment or lost through atmospheric emissions, was estimated to be 13% of the net anthropogenic input in the moorland and 61% in the grassland catchment. These values contrast with regional scale estimates: Catchment retentions of net anthropogenic input estimated within Europe at the regional scale range from 50% to 90 %, with an average of 82% (Billen et al., 2011). This study emphasises the need for detailed budget analyses to identify the N status of European landscapes.

AB - A comprehensive assessment of nitrogen (N) flows at the landscape scale is fundamental to understand spatial interactions in the N cascade and to inform the development of locally optimised N management strategies. To explore these interactions, complete N budgets were estimated for two contrasting hydrological catchments (dominated by agricultural grassland vs. semi-natural peat-dominated moorland), forming part of an intensively studied landscape in southern Scotland. Local scale atmospheric dispersion modelling and detailed farm and field inventories provided high resolution estimations of input fluxes. Direct agricultural inputs (i.e. grazing excreta, N2 fixation, organic and synthetic fertiliser) accounted for most of the catchment N inputs, representing 82% in the grassland and 62% in the moorland catchment, while atmospheric deposition made a significant contribution, particularly in the moorland catchment, contributing 38% of the N inputs. The estimated catchment N budgets highlighted areas of key uncertainty, particularly N2 exchange and stream N export. The resulting N balances suggest that the study catchments have a limited capacity to store N within soils, vegetation and groundwater. The “catchment N retention”, i.e. the amount of N which is either stored within the catchment or lost through atmospheric emissions, was estimated to be 13% of the net anthropogenic input in the moorland and 61% in the grassland catchment. These values contrast with regional scale estimates: Catchment retentions of net anthropogenic input estimated within Europe at the regional scale range from 50% to 90 %, with an average of 82% (Billen et al., 2011). This study emphasises the need for detailed budget analyses to identify the N status of European landscapes.

KW - Catchment

KW - Nitrogen

KW - Nitrogen budget

M3 - Article

VL - 9

SP - 8989

EP - 9028

JO - Biogeosciences

JF - Biogeosciences

SN - 1726-4170

ER -

Vogt E, Braban CF, Dragosits U, Theobald MR, Billett MF, Dore AJ et al. Estimation of nitrogen budgets for contrasting catchments at the landscape scale. Biogeosciences. 2012;9:8989 - 9028.