Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 271–284 | Cite as

Modelling heavy metal and phosphorus balances for farming systems

  • A. Keller
  • R. Schulin


Accounting for agricultural activities such as P fertilization in regional models of heavy metal accumulation provides suitable sustainable management strategies to reduce nutrient surpluses and metal inputs in agricultural soils. Using the balance model PROTERRA-S, we assessed the phosphorus (P), cadmium (Cd) and zinc (Zn) flux balances in agricultural soils of a rural region in Switzerland for different farm types and crop types. The P requirements of crops on arable farms were mainly supplied by commercial fertilizers and sewage sludge, while on animal husbandry farms P fertilizer demands were met by animal manure alone. Metal accumulation in soil was very different between the balance units. Estimated net Cd fluxes ranged between 1.0 and 2.3 g ha−1 yr−1 for arable farm types, 0.6 and 2.0 g ha−1 yr−1 for dairy and mixed farm types, and 9.1 and 17.8 g ha−1 yr−1 for animal husbandry farm types. Largest net Zn fluxes of 17.9–39.8 kg ha−1 yr−1 were estimated for animal husbandry farms, whereas for arable farm types net Zn fluxes of 101–260 g ha−1 yr−1 and for dairy and mixed farm types of 349–3360 g ha−1 yr−1 were found. The results indicate that P management is a primary factor determining the variation of these net Cd and net Zn fluxes. The latter were highly sensitive to the Zn/P concentration ratio in animal manure, atmospheric deposition and crop concentrations. Variation of net Cd fluxes resulted mainly from uncertainty in crop concentrations, atmospheric deposition, leaching parameters and uncertainty in Cd/P concentration ratio of commercial fertilizers. In addition, element balances were sensitive to empirical assumptions on fertilization strategy of farmers, such as the partitioning of manure between balance units.

Accumulation Agricultural soils Balance model Heavy metals Land use systems Phosphorus Uncertainty analysis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aarts H.F.M., Habekotte B. and van Keulen H. 2000. Phosphorus (P) management in the De Marke dairy farming system. Nutr. Cycl. Agroecosyst. 56: 219-229.Google Scholar
  2. Boekhold A.E. and van der Zee S.E.A.T.M. 1991. Long-term effects of soil heterogeneity on cadmium behavior in soil. J. Contam. Hydrol. 7: 371-390.Google Scholar
  3. Bono R. 1999. Schwermetalle in Baselbieter Böden. Bauund Umweltschutzdirektion Kanton Basel-Landschaft, Bodenschutzfachstelle, 4410 Liestal, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  4. Boysen P. 1992. Schwermetalle und andere Schadstoffe in Düngemitteln. Forschungsbericht 107 01 016/01 Umweltbundesamt Berlin, Germany.Google Scholar
  5. Buchter B., Davidoff B., Amacher M.C., Hinz C., Iskandar I.K. and Selim H.M. 1989. Correlation of Freundlich Kd and n retention parameters with soils and elements. Soil Sci. 148: 370-379.Google Scholar
  6. Campillo M.C.D., van der Zee S.E.A.T.M. and Torrent J. 1999. Modelling long-term phosphorus leaching and changes in phosphorus fertility in excessively fertilized acid sandy soils. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 50: 391-399.Google Scholar
  7. Chambers B.J., Nicholson F.A., Soloman D.R. and Unwin R. 1998. Heavy-metal loadings from animal manures to agricultural land in England and Wales. In: Martinez J. (ed) Proc. of the FAO-Network on recycling agricultural, municipal and industrial residues in agriculture (RAMIRAN 98). Rennes, France, May 1998. FAO, Rome, pp. 475-483.Google Scholar
  8. Elzinga E.J., van Grinsven J.J.M. and Swartjes F.A. 1999. General purpose Freundlich isotherms for cadmium, copper and zinc in soils. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 50: 139-149.Google Scholar
  9. FaBo 1997. Sewage sludge database of the Canton Basel-Land. Bauund Umweltschutzdirektion Kanton Basel-Landschaft, Fachstelle Bodenschutz, 4410 Liestal, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  10. FOEFL 1994. Guidelines for Water Protection in Agriculture - Subject: Farm Manure. Federal Office for Agriculture (FOA), Federal Office of Environment, Forests and Landscape (FOEFL), 3003 - Berne, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  11. FOEFL 1997. Jahresberichte der Messresultate des Nationalen Beobachtungsnetzes für Luftfremdstoffe (NABEL). Federal Office of Environment, Forests and Landscape (FOEFL), 3003 - Berne, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  12. Grant R. 1998. Phosphorus in Danish agriculture, turnover, accumulation and losses. In: Proc. Phosphorus balance and utilization in agriculture towards sustainability. National Environmental Research Institute, Silkeborg, Denmark, March 1997, pp. 27-35.Google Scholar
  13. Gsponer R. 1990. Schwermetalle in Düngemitteln: Ein Diskussionsbeitrag. Amt für Gewässerschutz undWasserbau, Fachstelle Bodenschutz Zürich, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  14. Haygarth P.M., Chapman P.J., Jarvis S.C. and Smith R.V. 1998. Phosphorus budgets from two contrasting grassland farming systems in the UK. Soil Use Manage. 14: 160-167.Google Scholar
  15. Janssen P.H.M. 1994. Assessing sensitivities and uncertainties in models: A critical evaluation. In: Grasman J. and van Straten G. (eds) Predictability and Nonlinear Modelling in Natural Science and Economics. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 344-361.Google Scholar
  16. Johnes P.J. and Hodgkinson R.A. 1998. Phosphorus loss from agricultural catchments: pathways and implications for management. Soil Use Manage. 14: 175-185.Google Scholar
  17. Keller A. 2000. Assessment of uncertainty in modelling heavy metal balances of regional agroecosystems. Dissertation No. 13944. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zürich), Switzerland.Google Scholar
  18. Keller A., von Steiger B., van der Zee S.E.A.T.M. and Schulin R. 2001. A stochastic empirical model for regional heavy-metal balances in agro-ecosystems. J. Environ. Qual. 30: 1976-1989.Google Scholar
  19. Keller A., Abbaspour K.C. and Schulin R. 2002. Assessment of uncertainty and risk in modeling regional heavy-metal accumulation in agricultural soils. J. Environ. Qual. 31: 175-187.Google Scholar
  20. Menzi H., Haldemann C. and Kessler J. 1993. Schwermetalle in Hofdüngern - ein Thema mit Wissenslücken. Schweizerische Landwirtschaftliche Forschung 32: 159-167.Google Scholar
  21. Menzi H. and Kessler J. 1998. Heavy Metal Content of Manure in Switzerland. In: Martinez J. (ed) Proc. of the FAO-Network on Recycling Agricultural, Municipal and Industrial Residues in Agriculture (RAMIRAN 98). Rennes, France, May 1998, pp. 495-506.Google Scholar
  22. Moolenaar S.W. and Lexmond T.M. 1998. Heavy-metal balances of agro-ecosystems in the Netherlands. Netherlands J. Agric. Sci. 46: 171-192.Google Scholar
  23. Mortvedt J.J. 1996. Heavy metal contaminants in inorganic and organic fertilizers. Fert. Res. 43: 55-61.Google Scholar
  24. Nicholson F.A., Chambers B.J., Williams J.R. and Unwin R.J. 1999. Heavy-metal contents of livestock feeds and animal manures in England and Wales. Bioresource Technol. 70: 23-31.Google Scholar
  25. Oyanarte M., Besga G., Rodriguez M., Domingo M. and Sinclair A.G. 1997. Balanced pasture fertilization in the Basque Country: I. Phosphorous and potassium budgets on dairy farms. Nutr. Cycl. Agroecosyst. 47: 261-269.Google Scholar
  26. Raven K.P. and Loeppert R.H. 1997. Trace element composition of fertilizers and soil amendments. J. Environ. Qual. 26: 551-557.Google Scholar
  27. Reiner I., Lampert C., Piterkova M. and Brunner P.H. 1996. Stoffbilanzen landwirtschaftlicher Böden von ausgewählten Betriebstypen bei Verwendung von Klärschlamm und Kompost. BKK2 - Endbericht. TU Wien. Institut für Wassergüte und Abfallwirtschaft (AWS), Wien, Austria.Google Scholar
  28. Richner B. and Moos F. 1989. Auswirkung hoher Tierdichten auf die Qualität des Bodens. Nationales Forschungsprogramm ‘Boden’. Report No. 41. 3097 Liebefeld-Berne, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  29. SAEFL 2001. Commentary on the Ordinance of 1 July 1998 relating to impacts on the soil. Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL). 3003 Berne, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  30. Sager M. 1997. Possible trace metal load from fertilizers. Bodenkultur 48: 217-223.Google Scholar
  31. Schütze G. and Nagel H.D. 1998. Kriterien für die Erarbeitung von Immssionsminderungszielen zum Schutz der Böden und Abschätzung der langfristigen räumlichen Auswirkungen anthropogener Stoffeinträge. UBA Texte 19/98, Forschungsbericht 204 02 825. Umweltbundesamt Berlin, Germany.Google Scholar
  32. Sharpley A., Foy B. and Withers P. 2000. Practical and innovative measures for the control of agricultural phosphorus losses to water: an overview. J. Environ. Qual. 29: 1-9.Google Scholar
  33. Smaling E.M.A. and Fresco L.O. 1993. A decision-support model for monitoring nutrient balances under agricultural land use. Geoderma 60: 235-256.Google Scholar
  34. Smith K.A., Chambers A.G., Chambers B.J. and Christie P. 1998. Organic manure phosphorus accumulation mobility and management. Soil Use Manage. 14: 154-159.Google Scholar
  35. Spiess E. 1999. Stickstoff-und Phosphorbilanz der Schweizer Landwirtschaft. Agrarforschung 6: 261-264.Google Scholar
  36. Swiss Federal Statistical Office 1996. Database STATINFO - Census 1996. Swiss Federal Statistical Office. 2010 Neuchatel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  37. Tiktak A., Alkemade R., van Grinsven H. and Makaske K. 1998. Modelling cadmium accumulation on a regional scale in the Netherlands. Nutr. Cycl. Agroecosyst. 50: 209-222.Google Scholar
  38. Tiktak A., Leijnse A. and Vissenberg H. 1999. Uncertainty in a regional-scale assessment of cadmium accumulation in the Netherlands. J. Environ. Qual. 28: 461-470.Google Scholar
  39. Velthof G.L., van Erp P.J. and Moolenaar S.W. 1996. Optimizing fertilizer plans for arable farming systems, II. Effects of fertilizer choice on inputs of heavy metals. Meststoffen 1996: 74-80.Google Scholar
  40. Van Riemsdijk W.H., Lexmond T.M., Enfield C.G. and van der Zee S.E.A.T.M. 1987. Phosphorus and heavy metals: accumulation and consequences. In: van de Meer H.G., Unwin R.J., van Dijk T.A. and Ennik G.C. (eds) Animal Manure on Grassland and Fodder Crops - Fertilizer or Waste? Martinus Nijhoff Publishers Dordrecht, Wageningen, The Netherlands, pp. 213-227.Google Scholar
  41. Von Steiger B. and Baccini P. 1990. Regionale Stoffbilanzierung von landwirtschaftlichen Böden mit messbarem Ein-und Austrag. Nationales Forschungsprogramm "Boden". Report No. 38. 3097 Liebefeld-Berne, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  42. Walther U., Menzi H., Ryser P., Flisch R., Jeangros B. and Kessler W. 1994. Grundlagen für die Düngung im Acker-und Futterbau. Agrarforschung 7: 1-40.Google Scholar
  43. Withers P.J.A., Peel S., Mansbridge R.M., Chalmers A.C. and Lane S.J. 1999. Transfer of phosphorus within three dairy farming systems receiving varying inputs in feeds and fertilizers. Nutr. Cycl. Agroecosyst. 55: 63-75.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Keller
    • 1
  • R. Schulin
    • 2
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences, Subdepartment of Soil QualityWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute of Terrestrial EcologySwiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich)SchlierenSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations