Losses of Nitrogen and Phosphorus from Agricultural and Forest Areas in Finland during the 1980s and 1990s
The temporal changes and spatial variability of phosphorus andnitrogen losses and concentrations in Finland during the period1981–1997 were studied in 15 small agricultural and forestedcatchments. In addition, four coastal river basins with highagricultural land use located in southern Finland were includedin the study in order to assess the representativeness ofagricultural loss estimates from small agricultural catchments.The mean annual loss specific for agricultural land was estimatedto be on average 110 kg km-2 a-1 for total phosphorusand 1500 kg km-2 a-1 for total nitrogen. The resultsfrom small agricultural catchments were in agreement with thecorresponding loss estimates from rivers, with an average of137 kg km-2 a-1 for total phosphorus and 1800 kg km-2a-1 for total nitrogen. The results from the studiedagricultural catchments and rivers during the period 1981–1997suggest that weather-driven fluctuation in discharge was usuallythe main reason for changes in nutrient losses, and little or noimpact of changes in agricultural production or managementpractises can be observed. In forested areas the total phosphorusloss (average 9 kg km-2 a-1) and total nitrogen loss(average 250 kg km-2 a-1) were lower than inagricultural areas. In forested catchments the impact of forestryoperations, such as clear-cutting and fertilization, and theimpact of atmospheric nitrogen deposition can be seen in changesin nutrient losses.
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