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Shaping of an agricultural landscape to increase water and nutrient retention

Abstract One of the most important phenomena, from the point of view of sustainable development of the countryside, is the worsening quality and diminishing quantity of water resources. The agriculture-induced pressure on ecosystems tends to increase while hunger and malnutrition of global population grows, expected to reach 2 billion persons by 2050. Moreover, there is no more land that could be utilized for this purpose. Widespread appearance of erosion, pollution of ground and surface waters and shortages of water resources is therefore expected. This seeks for an urgent need for a new approach to environmental management. For this purpose, not only technical measures, but also natural mechanisms, involving physical and biological processes must be used. This paper presents the results of investigations carried out in Wielkopolska (Poland) and in the Gumera (Gumara) catchment (Ethiopia) on climate and land use changes, and their impacts on water quantity and quality. Possibilities to counteract the worsening of water conditions are presented. Long-term investigations show that proper shaping of landscape structures, mainly by creation of shelterbelts, strips of meadows, land-water ecotones and small water bodies, and improving soil structure by increasing organic matter content, is one of the best tools for achieving this goal.

Dynamics of dissolved nutrients in forest floor leachates: comparison of a natural forest ecosystem with monoculture tree species plantations in south-east Ethiopia

Abstract The dynamics of nutrients in water passing through the forest floors of two plantation forests (Cupressus lusitanica and Eucalyptus globulus) and an adjacent natural forest were monitored over a one year period at Munesa, Ethiopia. The results showed that, in all forest types, after K, Ca and Cl were the most abundant nutrients leached from the forest floor to the mineral soil. The concentration of N03−N in the natural forest was about 10 times higher than that of NH4−N, but 8 and 3 times higher than that of NH4−N under Eucalyptus and Cupressus, respectively. No significant differences in concentrations of most of the nutrients were observed among forest types, but magnesium and N03−N were significantly higher under the natural forest and Eucalyptus than under Cupressus. Except for NH4−N, which was depleted in relation to throughfall in the natural forest, the concentrations of all other nutrients were enriched in litter leachate in relation to both rainfall and throughfall. However, with the exceptions of NO3−N in all forest types, Ca under Cupressus and PO4−P under Cupressus and Eucalyptus, all measured nutrient fluxes from the forest floor to the mineral soil decreased in relation to throughfall fluxes. Generally, the results show that despite the differences in tree species composition among the forest types the organic layer acted as a sink for most of the nutrients coming via throughfall.