Measurement and simulation of solute transport in a hummocky landscape
Olatuyi, Solomon Olalekan
Due to the complexity of nitrogen dynamics in the soil, tracer techniques are employed to estimate the fate and transport of nitrate in agricultural fields. This study was conducted to examine effects of N fertilization and landscape position on two-dimensional redistribution of bromide in a hummocky landscape, and to identify the landscape position with the greatest potential for solute loss using a dual application of Br- and 15N. The field data on Br- transport was also simulated using the HYDRUS models. The study was carried out near Brandon, Manitoba in 2007 and 2008, using two separate plots denoted as Site-2007 and Site-2008, respectively. The field plot was delineated into three landscape positions as upper (UPP), middle (MID) and lower (LOW) slope. Each landscape position received labelled K15NO3 at the rates of 0, 90 and 135 kg N ha-1, and KBr at the rate of 200 kg Br- ha-1. Site-2007 was seeded to canola while Site-2008 had winter wheat. Soil samples were taken in the fall and the following spring and were analyzed for Br-, NO3-N, total N, and isotope N ratio. Nitrogen fertilization reduced the downward movement of Br- in the soil profile, resulting in a greater lateral movement of Br- compared to the unfertilized plots. The greatest vertical and lateral movement of Br- occurred at the LOW slope. In the dual-tracer experiment, the smallest amounts of Br-, 15N, and NO3-N were measured in the soil at the LOW slope, while the greatest amounts were at the MID slope; indicating that solute loss was: LOW > UPP > MID. In the absence of crop uptake, Br- transport was identical to that of 15N. The simulation study showed that HYDRUS-1D model was inadequate to describe solute transport in the landscape, as HYDRUS-2D/3D reproduced the field data better than HYDRUS-1D. However, the 2D model did not reflect effects of landscape position and N fertility on Br- transport. Overall, the study confirmed the “Campbell hypothesis” which states that proper N fertilization reduces nitrate leaching. The field experiment and model simulation both showed that downward movement is the main pathway of solute loss in the landscape.
solute, transport, nitrate leaching, landscape