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A study on removing nitrogen from paddy field rainfall runoff by an ecological ditch–zeolite barrier system


Ecological ditches and zeolite have been widely applied in the removal of farmland nonpoint source pollution separately; little research has been done on the effects of combining the two methods. Specifically, few studies have focused on the in situ regeneration of zeolite. A 2-year field experiment using an ecological ditch–zeolite barrier system was conducted in a paddy field of summer rice–winter wheat rotation in the Taihu Lake area. The system consisted of two zeolite barriers positioned at one third and two thirds of the length of the ditch. This study focused on the effect of the system on in situ nitrogen removal during the rice-growing season. Simultaneous laboratory kinetics experiments with natural zeolite and a series of adsorbed zeolites taken from the ditch at different time were also conducted. The concentration removal efficiencies of total nitrogen are averaged 24.66% in 2014 and 30.39% in 2015. Meanwhile, the cumulative adsorption quantity of ammonia nitrogen by the two barriers accounted for 49.27% of the ammonia nitrogen removed in 2014 and 54.35% of that in 2015. The amount of nitrogen adsorbed by plants was larger than that adsorbed by zeolite. The breakthrough curves of the zeolite and the characteristics of the zeolite surface structures from different periods all demonstrated that the zeolite can be regenerated in situ in the case of unsaturated zeolite within the ecological ditch. It can be concluded that an ecological ditch–zeolite barrier system is a realistic option for removing nitrogen from agricultural rainfall runoff in the Taihu Lake area.

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This work was financed by the Innovative Research Groups of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51621092), the Natural Science Fund of Tianjin City (No. 16JCYBJC23100), and the Major Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control and Treatment (Grant No. 2012ZX07101-008).

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Correspondence to Xiaoling Wang or Songmin Li.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Wang, X., Li, J., Li, S. et al. A study on removing nitrogen from paddy field rainfall runoff by an ecological ditch–zeolite barrier system. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 27090–27103 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0269-7

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  • Nitrogen removal
  • Ecological ditch
  • Zeolite barriers
  • In situ regeneration
  • Rainfall runoff
  • Paddy field