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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 27 No. 5, p. 1009-1017
    Received: July 18, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): szhang@dls.iog.ac.cn
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Nutrient Retention by Multipond Systems: Mechanisms for the Control of Nonpoint Source Pollution

  1. Weijin Yan *,
  2. Chengqing Yin and
  3. Hongxiao Tang
  1. SKLEAC, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Science, CAS, P.O. Box 2871, Beijing 100085, P.R.C.;
    Dept. of Environment Quality, Institute of Geography, CAS, Building no. 917, Datun Rd., Beijing 100101, P.R.C.



The processes of the multipond system in an experimental agricultural watershed located in southeastern China were studied during a 2-yr period (1994–1995), with the purpose of the research being the reduction of nonpoint nutrient pollution at its sources. The mechanisms studied included water storage capacity, sedimentation, denitrification, and removal of nutrients by the harvest of macrophytes from ponds and ditches. The results showed that the retention of both water and nutrients depended on the water storage capacity of the ponds, the total pond volume, rainfall, surface runoff, and irrigation amounts. For the years of 1994 and 1995, the water retention rate was 85.5%, while the nutrient retention rate reached 98.1 and 97.8% for total N (TN) and total P (TP), respectively. Sediment deposit was another important mechanism. The average sedimentation rate was 30.0 mm yr−1 (from 1985–1995). For the whole multipond system (35 ha), the average retention amounts reached 9800 kg of N and 2800 kg of P by sediment accumulation per year. The results demonstrated that denitrification in ponds and ditches was an important mechanism for removing N from the watershed. The highest possible rate was more than 0.17 mg N g−1 soil during the summer season. The results suggested that the multipond system, which kept water in balance, benefited the water, nutrient, and sediment recycling in the terrestrial ecosystem, as well as helped to reduce agricultural nonpoint pollution at its sources. Therefore, the multipond system, with its low cost in construction and maintenance, is recommended as a good practice both for the control of nonpoint pollution at its sources and for sustainable agricultural development.

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