Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 107, Issue 3, pp 381–394 | Cite as

Nutrient distribution and risk assessment in drainage ditches with different surrounding land uses

  • Tao Wang
  • Mathieu Kumwimba
  • Bo ZhuEmail author
  • Xiaoguo Wang
  • Jialiang Tang
Original Article


Due to lack of ditch maintenance, many ditches in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River are strongly affected by nutrient over-enrichment. Accordingly, we conducted surveys of nutrient concentrations in ditchwater and sediment in the hilly area of the central Sichuan Basin to investigate the spatiotemporal variations of nutrient concentrations and to promote the restoration of ditches for ecological functions. The results showed that the mean total nitrogen, particulate nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, and total phosphorus values in ditchwater were 4.80, 1.09, 0.94, 1.09, and 0.18 mg/L, respectively. The mean concentrations of total nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, and total phosphorus in ditch sediment were 1.58 g/kg, 2.62 mg/kg, 1.54 mg/kg, and 6.95 g/kg, respectively. Higher total nitrogen concentrations in ditchwater occurred in western areas, while higher total phosphorus concentrations occurred in central areas. Seasonally, we measured higher nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in ditchwater close to agricultural areas during the rainy season, while the opposite effect was true for residential areas. Although nutrient concentrations in ditchwater could be affected by both surrounding land uses and ditch water levels, land use was critical. Moreover, nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations were significantly higher in the ditchwater near residential areas when compared to paddy or sloping cropland ditches. However, we found no significant differences between the nutrient contents of sediments in ditches surrounded by different land uses. Our results indicate that water pollution control initiatives in residential areas would be the most critical factor in combating ditchwater and sediment pollution in this region. Therefore, efforts to restore the ecological functions of drainage ditches should take into account rural township sewage management, fertilizer reduction, and especially ditch vegetation restoration.


Ditch management Pollution assessment Nutrient Hilly areas Enrichment 



We would like to thank the English language editor and all anonymous reviewers of this study. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41371462, 41430750, and 41371302), the Science and Technology Service Network Initiative of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KFJ-SW-STS-175-02), the “West Light” Talent Plan (recipient Jialiang Tang), and the open foundation of the Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation, Chinese Academy of Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tao Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mathieu Kumwimba
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bo Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xiaoguo Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jialiang Tang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological RegulationChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina

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