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Evaluating the risk of non-point source pollution from biosolids: Integrated modelling of nutrient losses at field and catchment scales

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paul Quinn



A semi-distributed model, INCA, has been developed to determine the fate and distribution of nutrients in terrestrial and aquatic systems. The model simulates nitrogen and phosphorus processes in soils, groundwaters and river systems and can be applied in a semi-distributed manner at a range of scales. In this study, the model has been applied at field to sub-catchment to whole catchment scale to evaluate the behaviour of biosolid-derived losses of P in agricultural systems. It is shown that process-based models such as INCA, applied at a wide range of scales, reproduce field and catchment behaviour satisfactorily. The INCA model can also be used to generate generic information for risk assessment. By adjusting three key variables: biosolid application rates, the hydrological connectivity of the catchment and the initial P-status of the soils within the model, a matrix of P loss rates can be generated to evaluate the behaviour of the model and, hence, of the catchment system. The results, which indicate the sensitivity of the catchment to flow paths, to application rates and to initial soil conditions, have been incorporated into a Nutrient Export Risk Matrix (NERM).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Whitehead PG, Heathwaite AL, Flynn NJ, Wade AJ, Quinn PF

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

Year: 2007

Volume: 11

Issue: 1

Pages: 601-613

Print publication date: 01/01/2007

ISSN (print): 1027-5606

ISSN (electronic): 1607-7938

Publisher: Copernicus GmbH