• N leaching to groundwater from dairy production involving grazing over the winter on a clay-loam soil

      Necpalova, Magdalena; Fenton, Owen; Casey, Imelda A.; Humphreys, James; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF07-511 (Elsevier B. V., 15/08/2012)
      This study investigated concentrations of various N species in shallow groundwater (< 2.2 m below ground level) and N losses from dairy production involving grazing over the winter period on a clay loam soil with a high natural attenuation capacity in southern Ireland (52˚51’N, 08˚21’W) over a two year period. A dense network of shallow groundwater piezometers was installed to determine groundwater flow direction and N spatial and temporal variation. Estimated vertical travel times through the unsaturated zone (<0.5 yr, time lag) allowed the correlation of management with groundwater N within a short space of time. There was a two way interaction of the system and sampling date (P < 0.05) on concentrations of DON, oxidised N and NO3--N. In contrast, concentrations of NH4+-N and NO2--N were unaffected by the dairy system. Grazing over the winter had no effect on N losses to groundwater. Mean concentrations of DON, NH4+-N, NO2--N and NO3--N were 2.16, 0.35, 0.01 and 0.37 mg L-1 respectively. Soil attenuation processes such as denitrification and DNRA resulted in increased NH4+-N levels. For this reason, DON and NH4+-N represented the highest proportion of N losses from the site. Some of the spatial and temporal variation of N concentrations was explained by correlations with selected chemical and hydro-topographical parameters (NO3--N/Cl- ratio, distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor, watertable depth, depth of sampling piezometer, DOC concentration). A high explanatory power of NO3--N/Cl- ratio and the distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor indicated the influence of point sources and groundwater-surface water interactions.
    • Variations in travel time for N loading to groundwaters in four case studies in Ireland:Implications for policy makers and regulators

      Fenton, Owen; Coxon, Catherine E.; Haria, Atul H.; Horan, Brendan; Humphreys, James; Johnston, Paul; Murphy, Paul N. C.; Necpalova, Magdalena; Premrov, Alina; Richards, Karl G. (School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin in association with Teagasc, 2009)
      Mitigation measures to protect waterbodies must be implemented by 2012 to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive. The efficacy of these measures will be assessed in 2015. Whilst diffuse N pathways between source and receptor are generally long and complex, EU legislation does not account for differences in hydrological travel time distributions that may result in different water quality response times. The “lag time” between introducing mitigation measures and first improvements in water quality is likely to be different in different catchments; a process that should be considered by policy makers and catchment managers. Many examples of travel time variations have been quoted in the literature but no Irish specific examples are available. Lag times based on initial nutrient breakthrough at four contrasting sites were estimated to a receptor 500 m away from a source. Vertical travel times were estimated using a combination of depth of infiltration calculations based on effective rainfall and subsoil physical parameters and existing hydrological tracer data. Horizontal travel times were estimated using a combination of Darcian linear velocity calculations and existing tracer migration data. Total travel times, assuming no biogeochemical processes, ranged from months to decades between the contrasting sites; the shortest times occurred under thin soil/subsoil on karst limestone and the longest times through thick low permeability soils/subsoils over poorly productive aquifers. Policy makers should consider hydrological lag times when assessing the efficacy of mitigation measures introduced under the Water Framework Directive. This lag time reflects complete flushing of a particular nutrient from source to receptor. Further research is required to assess the potential mitigation of nitrate through denitrification along the pathway from source to receptor.