Concentrations of soil nitrate were measured in areas of different land use within a small drainage basin. From previous work on nitrate losses from subcatchments, soil nitrate levels were expected in the order arable > grassland > woodland. Although differences were detected, they were not consistent and seasonal variations in soil nitrate for the same land use were greater than those between land uses. Seasonal fluctuations in stream nitrate loads were not strongly related to the seasonal differences in soil nitrate levels but were more closely related to stream discharge and antecedent climatic conditions. Losses of nitrate from the catchment seemed to be transport limited and independent of variations in soil nitrate supply; the implication is that water quality control by land use manipulation will only be successful in supply limited situations when leaching losses are sensitive to variations in soil nitrate supply.
Soil nitrate sources and nitrate leaching losses, Slapton, South Devon
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