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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 353086, 10 pages
Research Article

Nitrate-Nitrogen Leaching and Modeling in Intensive Agriculture Farmland in China

1State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
2College of Ecological and Environmental Engineering, Qinghai University, Xining, China
3Department of Environmental Engineering, Nanjing Institute of Technology, Nanjing, China

Received 4 April 2013; Accepted 18 June 2013

Academic Editors: F. Darve, C. García, P. F. Hudak, and A. Moldes

Copyright © 2013 Ligang Xu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Protecting water resources from nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) contamination is an important public health concern and a major national environmental issue in China. Loss of NO3-N in soils due to leaching is not only one of the most important problems in agriculture farming, but is also the main factor causing nitrogen pollution in aquatic environments. Three typical intensive agriculture farmlands in Jiangyin City in China are selected as a case study for NO3-N leaching and modeling in the soil profile. In this study, the transport and fate of NO3-N within the soil profile and nitrate leaching to drains were analyzed by comparing field data with the simulation results of the LEACHM model. Comparisons between measured and simulated data indicated that the NO3-N concentrations in the soil and nitrate leaching to drains are controlled by the fertilizer practice, the initial conditions and the rainfall depth and distribution. Moreover, the study reveals that the LEACHM model gives a fair description of the NO3-N dynamics in the soil and subsurface drainage at the field scale. It can also be concluded that the model after calibration is a useful tool to optimize as a function of the combination “climate-crop-soil-bottom boundary condition” the nitrogen application strategy resulting for the environment in an acceptable level of nitrate leaching. The findings in this paper help to demonstrate the distribution and migration of nitrogen in intensive agriculture farmlands, as well as to explore the mechanism of groundwater contamination resulting from agricultural activities.