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Modelling the impact on water quality of land use change in agricultural catchments.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/03/1997
<mark>Journal</mark>Hydrological Processes
Issue number3
Number of pages42
Pages (from-to)269-228
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Export coefficient modelling was used to model the impact of agriculture on nitrogen and phosphorus loading on the surface waters of two contrasting agricultural catchments. The model was originally developed for the Windrush catchment where the highly reactive Jurassic limestone aquifer underlying the catchment is well connected to the surface drainage network, allowing the system to be modelled using uniform export coefficients for each nutrient source in the catchment, regardless of proximity to the surface drainage network. In the Slapton catchment, the hydrological pathways are dominated by surface and lateral shallow subsurface flow, requiring modification of the export coefficient model to incorporate a distance–decay component in the export coefficients. The modified model was calibrated against observed total nitrogen and total phosphorus loads delivered to Slapton Ley from inflowing streams in its catchment. Sensitivity analysis was conducted to isolate the key controls on nutrient export in the modified model. The model was validated against long-term records of water quality, and was found to be accurate in its predictions and sensitive to both temporal and spatial changes in agricultural practice in the catchment. The model was then used to forecast the potential reduction in nutrient loading on Slapton Ley associated with a range of catchment management strategies. The best practicable environmental option (BPEO) was found to be spatial redistribution of high nutrient export risk sources to areas of the catchment with the greatest intrinsic nutrient retention capacity.

Bibliographic note

Modelling the impact on water quality of land use change in agricultural catchments.

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