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Irrigation management, nitrogen fertilization and nitrogen losses in the return flows of La Violada irrigation district (Spain)

AuthorsBarros, Rocío; Isidoro, Daniel; Aragüés Lafarga, Ramón CSIC
KeywordsNitrogen use efficiency
Non-point pollution
Nitrogen balance
Irrigation efficiency
La Violada irrigation district
Issue DateJul-2012
CitationBarros R, Isidoro D, Aragüés R. Irrigation management, nitrogen fertilization and nitrogen losses in the return flows of La Violada irrigation district (Spain). Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 155: 161–171 (2012)
AbstractNitrogen (N) pollution induced by irrigated agriculture is a significant environmental problem. The main N inputs and outputs were measured or estimated in the semi-arid LaVioladairrigation district (Spain). Data on two periods (1995–1998 and 2006–2008) were compared and related to observed changes during the decade in cropping patterns and N fertilization and irrigationmanagement. N fertilization exceeded crop N uptake due to over-fertilization of corn (426 kg N/ha in 1995–1998 and 332 kg N/ha in 2006–2008) and alfalfa (62 kg N/ha). Between the two periods, N fertilization decreased by 56%, primarily due to a change from corn to alfalfa and barley. Accordingly, N losses in the irrigationreturnflows (IRF) diminished from 31% of the applied fertilizer in 1995–1998 to 20% in 2006–2008. NO3− concentrations and NO3-N loads in the IRF decreased from 40 mg/L and 106 kg N/ha in 1995–1998 to 21 mg/L and 22 kg N/ha in 2006–2008, due to lower N fertilization, lower corn area and improved irrigation efficiency. N contamination in the IRF will be minimized by increasing the irrigation efficiency and decreasing the corn area and its N fertilization rates, particularly when supplemental organic N is applied at pre-sowing.
Description35 Pags., 5 Figs., 5 Tabls. The definitive version is available at:
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