Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-303
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 Jul 2016
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Can controlled drainage control agricultural nutrient emissions? Evidence from a BACI experiment combined with a dual isotope approach
Mette V. Carstensen1, Jane R. Poulsen1, Niels B. Ovesen1, Christen D. Børgesen2, Søren K. Hvid3, and Brian Kronvang1 1Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Vejlsøvej 25, 8600 Silkeborg, Denmark
2Department of Agroecology, Blichers Allé 20, 8830 Tjele, Denmark
3SEGES, Agro Food Park 15, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark
Abstract. Controlled drainage combined with winter crops was investigated for the first time as a mitigation measure for reducing nitrate loss through drainage systems during a three-year period (2012–15) on a loamy soil in Denmark. The impact of controlled drainage on groundwater levels, drain flow, total nitrogen, nitrate, ammonium, nitrous oxide, total phosphorous, and phosphate when applying regulation levels of 50 and 70 cm above drain pipes were determined by using a before-after control-impact (BACI) study design. The regulation level had to be 70 cm to significantly elevate groundwater levels and reduce drain outflow and nitrate loss, which were reduced by 38–52 % (97–127 mm) and 36–48 % (6–8 kg nitrate-N ha−1) relative to conventional drainage levels, respectively. Controlled drainage did not appear to influence harvest yield or cause pollution swapping as the loss of total phosphorous, phosphate, and nitrous oxide was reduced by 44–45 %, 44–54 %, and 36–38 %, respectively. Stable isotope analysis of δ15N and δ18O in nitrate from drain water supported by measurements of nitrate, sulphate, and ammonium concentrations in drain water revealed that denitrification was not enhanced markedly at the impacted plots, except during one event where a pronounced decline in nitrate concentrations and ceased drain flow was observed.

Citation: Carstensen, M. V., Poulsen, J. R., Ovesen, N. B., Børgesen, C. D., Hvid, S. K., and Kronvang, B.: Can controlled drainage control agricultural nutrient emissions? Evidence from a BACI experiment combined with a dual isotope approach, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-303, 2016.
Mette V. Carstensen et al.
Mette V. Carstensen et al.

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Short summary
This study investigates whether the groundwater management technique called controlled drainage can be used as a mitigation measure to reduce the N loss from fields. Controlled drainage did lead to a significant reduction of the drain water flow (38–52 %) as well as nitrate-N losses (36–48 %) compared to traditional drainage systems without affecting crop growth. Enhanced denitrification was only documented for a shorter period, thus the reduction of N loss was primarily due to reduced drain flow.
This study investigates whether the groundwater management technique called controlled drainage...
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