The production processes and characteristics of nitrogen pollution in bare sloping farmland in a karst region

  • Ruxue Gao
  • Quanhou DaiEmail author
  • Yixian Gan
  • Xudong Peng
  • Youjin Yan
Research Article


Nitrogen loss in karst sloping farmland will lead to declining land productivity and environmental pollution, in which the nitrogen loss through underground pore fissures will directly lead to groundwater pollution. The characteristics of total nitrogen (TN) production were studied by simulating the “dual structure” microenvironment of sloping farmland in a karst region using an artificial rainfall simulation method. The results show that rainfall was the main driving factor of TN loss in karst sloping farmland. TN was mainly lost through underground pore fissures when the rainfall intensity was ≤ 30 mm · h−1. TN was lost at the surface and underground when the rainfall intensity was ≥ 50 mm · h−1, TN loss on the surface accounted for a large proportion, and the surface flow was the main carrier of TN loss. The TN loss underground is easily ignored because it is hidden underground. Therefore, TN loss belowground in karst sloping farmland should receive increased attention. It would be interesting to explore the influences of connectivity and type of underground pore fissure system on TN loss in karst sloping farmland. The prevention and control of TN loss in karst sloping farmland should be considered both at the surface and underground. Reducing the formation of slope flows and slowing rainwater filtration by increasing slope vegetation coverage can be considered to reduce TN loss. The results of this study provide a theoretical reference for agricultural non-point source pollution control in a karst region.

Graphical abstract


Karst sloping farmland Rainfall intensity Underground pore fissure degree (UPFD) Total nitrogen loss Pollution modulus of TN 


Funding information

This work was funded by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China [no. 41671275] and the National Key Research and Development Plan [no. 2016YFC0502604]. In addition, we appreciate the project support by the High-level Innovative Talents in Guizhou Province of Guizhou Province [Qian Ke He Platform Talents [2018]5641], the Major Project of Guizhou Province [Qian Ke He Major Project [2016]3022], and the science and technology projects of Guizhou Province [Qian Ke He Platform Talents [2017]5788].


  1. Cao W, Hong H, Yue S (2005) Modelling agricultural nitrogen contributions to the Jiulong River estuary and coastal water. Glob Planet Chang 47(2–4):111–121. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ceccon P, Dalla Costa L, Delle Vedove G, Giovanardi R, Peressotti A, Bastianel A, Zamborlini M (1995) Nitrogen in drainage water as influenced by soil depth and nitrogen fertilization: a study in lysimeters. Eur J Agron 4(3):289–298. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chang Y, Wu JC, Jiang GH (2015) Modeling the hydrological behavior of a karst spring using a nonlinear reservoir-pipe model. Hydrogeol J 23(5):901–914. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen P, Lian Y (2016) Modeling of soil loss and its impact factors in the Guijiang Karst River Basin in southern China. Environ Earth Sci 75(4):352. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheng YT, Li P, Xu GC, Li ZB, Wang T (2017) Effect of soil erodibility on nitrogen and phosphorus loss under condition of freeze-thaw. Trans Chin Soc Agr Eng 33(24):141–149. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  6. Dai Q, Peng X, Zhao L, Shao H, Yang Z (2017) Effects of underground pore fissures on soil erosion and sediment yield on karst slopes. Land Degrad Dev 28:1922–1932. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Drewry JJ, Newham LTH, Croke BFW (2009) Suspended sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations and exports during storm-events to the Tuross estuary, Australia. J Environ Manag 90(2):879–887. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fabian P (1987) Photochemischer Smog und seine Einwirkung auf die Biosphäre. Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt 106(1):223–235. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Febles-González JM, Vega-Carreño MB, Tolón-Becerra A, Lastra-Bravo X (2012) Assessment of soil erosion in karst regions of Havana, Cuba. Land Degrad Dev 23(5):465–474. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fu WB, Dai QH, Yan YJ (2015a) The response of soil erosion in karst slope and its shallow underground crevasse ratios. J Soil Water Conserv 29(02):11–16+22. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  11. Fu ZY, Chen HS, Zhang W, Xu QX, Wang S, Wang KL (2015b) Subsurface flow in a soil-mantled subtropical dolomite karst slope: a field rainfall simulation study. Geomorphology 250:1–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fu Z, Chen H, Xu Q, Jia J, Wang S, Wang K (2016) Role of epikarst in near-surface hydrological processes in a soil mantled subtropical dolomite karst slope: implications of field rainfall simulation experiments. Hydrol Process 30(5):795–811. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gao Y, Zhu B, Zhou P, Tang JL, Wang T, Miao CY (2009) Effects of vegetation cover on phosphorus loss from a hillslope cropland of purple soil under simulated rainfall: a case study in China. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 85(3):263–273. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gao Y, Zhu B, Wang T, Tang JL, Zhou P, Miao CY (2010) Bioavailable phosphorus transport from a hillslope cropland of purple soil under natural and simulated rainfall. Environ Monit Assess 171(1–4):539–550. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gao Y, Jia Y, Yu G, He N, Zhang L, Zhu B, Wang Y (2019) Anthropogenic reactive nitrogen deposition and associated nutrient limitation effect on gross primary productivity in inland water of China. J Clean Prod 208:530–540. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. García-Díaz A, Bienes R, Sastre B, Novara A, Gristina L, Cerdà A (2017) Nitrogen losses in vineyards under different types of soil groundcover. A field runoff simulator approach in central Spain. Agric Ecosyst Environ 236:256–267. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ibrikci H, Cetin M, Karnez E, Flügel WA, Tilkici B, Bulbul Y, Ryan J (2015) Irrigation-induced nitrate losses assessed in a Mediterranean irrigation district. Agric Water Manag 148(C):223–231. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jiang J, Fan H, Pang B, Zhang J, Li Z, Jiang S, Wu J (2018) Assessment of reactive nitrogen mitigation potential of different nitrogen treatments under direct-seeded rice and wheat cropping system. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25(20):20241–20254. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jost G, Dirnböck T, Grabner MT, Mirtl M (2011) Nitrogen leaching of two forest ecosystems in a karst watershed. Water Air Soil Pollut 218(1–4):633–649. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karimi R, Akinremi W, Flaten D (2018) Nitrogen- or phosphorus-based pig manure application rates affect soil test phosphorus and phosphorus loss risk. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 111(2–3):217–230. 1–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kogovsek J, Petric M (2014) Solute transport processes in a karst vadose zone characterized by long-term tracer tests (the cave system of Postojnska Jama, Slovenia). J Hydrol 519:1205–1213. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lal K, Minhas PS, Yadav RK (2015) Long-term impact of wastewater irrigation and nutrient rates II. Nutrient balance, nitrate leaching and soil properties under peri-urban cropping systems. Agric Water Manag 156:110–117. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. LeBauer DS, Treseder KK (2008) Nitrogen limitation of net primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems is globally distributed. Ecology 89(2):371–379. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lemma B, Kebede F, Mesfin S, Fitiwy I, Abraha Z, Norgrove L (2017) Quantifying annual soil and nutrient lost by rill erosion in continuously used semiarid farmlands, North Ethiopia. Environ Earth Sci 76(5):190. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li P, Lu J, Wang Y, Wang S, Hussain S, Ren T, Cong R, Li X (2018) Nitrogen losses, use efficiency, and productivity of early rice under controlled-release urea. Agric Ecosyst Environ 251:78–87. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Libutti A, Monteleone M (2017) Soil vs. groundwater: the quality dilemma. Managing nitrogen leaching and salinity control under irrigated agriculture in Mediterranean conditions. Agric Water Manag 186:40–50. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lu RK (1998) Soil agrochemical analysis. China Agricultural Science and Technology Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  28. Ma M, Gao Y, Song X et al (2018) Migration and leaching characteristics of base cation: indicating environmental effects on soil alkalinity in a karst area. Environ Sci Pollut Res.
  29. Peng XD, Dai QH, Li CL et al (2017) Effect of simulated rainfall intensities and underground pore fissure degrees on soil nutrient loss from slope farmlands in karst region. Trans Chin Soc Agric Eng 33(02):131–140. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  30. Peng X, Dai Q, Li C, Zhao L (2018) Role of underground fissure flow in near-surface rainfall-runoff process on a rock mantled slope in the karst rocky desertification area. Eng Geol 243:10–17. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ramos MC, Martínez-Casasnovas JA (2004) Nutrient losses from a vineyard soil in northeastern Spain caused by an extraordinary rainfall event. Catena 55(1):79–90. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ramos MC, Martínez-Casasnovas JA (2006) Nutrient losses by runoff in vineyards of the Mediterranean Alt Penedès region (NE Spain). Agric Ecosyst Environ 113(1):356–363. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ryther JH, Dunstan WM (1971) Nitrogen, phosphorus, and eutrophication in the coastal marine environment. Science. 171(3975):1008–1013. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Song X, Gao Y, Green SM, Dungait JAJ, Peng T, Quine TA, Xiong B, Wen X, He N (2017) Nitrogen loss from karst area in China in recent 50 years: an in-situ simulated rainfall experiment’s assessment. Ecol Evol 7:10131–10142. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. State Environmental Protection Administration (2002) Water and wastewater monitoring and analysis methods. China Environmental Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  36. Tuo D, Xu M, Gao G (2018) Relative contributions of wind and water erosion to total soil loss and its effect on soil properties in sloping croplands of the Chinese Loess Plateau. Sci Total Environ 633:1032–1040. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vitousek PM, Howarth RW (1991) Nitrogen limitation on land and in the sea: how can it occur? Biogeochemistry 13(2):87–115. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Waddell JT, Weil RR (2006) Effects of fertilizer placement on solute leaching under ridge tillage and no tillage. Soil Tillage Res 90(1):194–204. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wang G, Wu B, Zhang L, Jiang H, Xu Z (2014) Role of soil erodibility in affecting available nitrogen and phosphorus losses under simulated rainfall. J Hydrol 514:180–191. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wei XP, Xie SY, Zhang ZW et al (2011) Characteristics of surface soil erosion of karst valley in different land use types at Nanping in Chongqing. Trans Chin Soc Agric Eng 27(06):42–46. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  41. Wu XL, Zhang LP, Fu XT et al (2011) Nitrogen loss in surface runoff from Chinese cabbage fields. Phys Chem Earth 36(9):401–406. Google Scholar
  42. Wu LP, Chen HS, Fu ZY et al (2017) Effects of karst fissures on subsurface runoff and nitrogen vertical leaching. J Soil Water Conserv 31(05):64–71. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  43. Wu L, Peng M, Qiao S, Ma X (2018) Assessing impacts of rainfall intensity and slope on dissolved and adsorbed nitrogen loss under bare loessial soil by simulated rainfalls. Catena 170:51–63. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Xing M, Liu W (2016) Using dual isotopes to identify sources and transformations of nitrogen in water catchments with different land uses, Loess Plateau of China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23(1):1–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Xing W, Yang P, Ren S, Ao C, Li X, Gao W (2016) Slope length effects on processes of total nitrogen loss under simulated rainfall. Catena 139:73–81. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yan Y, Dai Q, Yuan Y, Peng X, Zhao L, Yang J (2018) Effects of rainfall intensity on runoff and sediment yields on bare slopes in a karst area. SW China Geoderma 330:30–40. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yang P, Tang YQ, Zhou NQ, Wang JX, She TY, Zhang XH (2011) Characteristics of red clay creep in karst caves and loss leakage of soil in the karst rocky desertification area of Puding County, Guizhou, China. Environ Earth Sci 63(3):543–549. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yang L, Yang G, Li H, Yuan S (2019) Effects of rainfall intensities on sediment loss and phosphorus enrichment ratio from typical land use type in Taihu Basin, China. Environ Sci Poll Res (5).
  49. Zhang XB, Bai XY, Bin HX (2011) Soil creeping in the weathering crust of carbonate rocks and underground soil losses in the karst mountain areas of southwest China. Carbonates Evaporites 26(2):149–153. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhang WY, Wang BT, Yang GX et al (2014) Erosive rainfall and characteristics analysis of sediment yield on yellow soil area in karst mountainous. Ecol Environ Sci 23(11):1776–1782. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  51. Zhang C, Qi X, Wang K, Zhang M, Yue Y (2017) The application of geospatial techniques in monitoring karst vegetation recovery in southwest China: a review. Prog Phys Geogr 41(4):450–477. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruxue Gao
    • 1
  • Quanhou Dai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yixian Gan
    • 1
  • Xudong Peng
    • 1
  • Youjin Yan
    • 1
  1. 1.College of ForestryGuizhou UniversityGuiyangChina

Personalised recommendations