Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 31, pp 32610–32623 | Cite as

Using vegetation correction coefficient to modify a dynamic particulate nutrient loss model for monthly nitrogen and phosphorus load predictions: a case study in a small loess hilly watershed

  • Lei Wu
  • Gouxia Li
  • Jun Jiang
  • Xiaoyi MaEmail author
Research Article


Vegetation is an important factor affecting nutrient enrichment ratio in runoff sediments but few studies have been examined in the effects of different vegetation scenarios on the monthly evolutions of particulate nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loss. In this study, a vegetation correction coefficient was innovatively embedded in a dynamic particulate nutrient loss model to evaluate the monthly trends of particulate N and P loss in a small highly erodible watershed. Results indicate that (i) the monthly sediment yield from June to August 2013 accounted for the dominant percentage in this extreme hydrological year, which was consistent with the monthly trends of rainfall erosivity. The largest monthly sediment yield rate under four different vegetation scenarios all occurred in July with the values of 530.56, 258.09, 579.69, and 370.74 t km-2. (ii) Particulate N and P loss from April to September changed significantly under different vegetation scenarios, and they were mainly concentrated in June and July 2013; only the N and P loss loads in July accounted for > 70% of annual load. However, the loads in January, February, March, October, November, and December were considered as zero because there was no erosive rainfall during the above 6 months. (iii) The reduction efficiency of particulate N and P loss by scenario 1 was about 1.7 times higher than scenario 3, which shows that forestland in sediment reduction was stronger than grassland and cropland in Zhifanggou Watershed. Results provide the underlying insights needed to guide vegetation reconstruction and soil conservation planning in loess hilly regions.


Vegetation scenarios Particulate nutrient loss model Sediment yield Nitrogen and phosphorus Loess hilly regions 



Special thanks to the data support from “Ansai Farmland Ecosystem National Scientific Observation Station, National Science & Technology Infrastructure of China (” and “Loess Plateau Data Center, National Earth System Science Data Sharing Infrastructure, National Science & Technology Infrastructure of China (”

Funding information

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51679206), Arid Meteorological Science Research-the Process and Mechanism of Drought Disaster in northern China (201506001), Youth Science and Technology Nova Project in Shaanxi Province (2017KJXX-91), Tang Scholar (Z111021720), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2452016120, 2452015374), and International Science and Technology Cooperation Funds (A213021603). This paper was also supported by the National Fund for Studying Abroad (CSC NO. 201706305014).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Agricultural Soil and Water Engineering in Arid and Semiarid Areas, Ministry of EducationNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Blackland Research and Extension Center, Texas A&M AgriLife ResearchTexas A&M UniversityTempleUSA
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess PlateauNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.College of Water Resources and Architectural EngineeringNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Ansai Comprehensive Experimental Station of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Ecosystem Research NetworkNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China

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