Best management practices to reduce nitrate pollution in a rural watershed in Germany
Abstract Water pollution by nitrogen originates at diffuse and point sources. In surface aquatic systems, nitrate is one of the most problematic forms of nitrogen, causing phytoplankton and macrophyte growth and consequently water eutrophication. This study evaluated whether the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model can simulate nitrate load in a rural watershed in daily and monthly time increments. The study investigated 462 km² of the upper part of the Stör catchment, a typical rural lowland catchment located in Northern Germany. The results showed that simulations of nitrate load at monthly increments are better predictors of observed data than daily simulations. The most effective practices to minimize the NO3-N load were the reduction of nitrogen fertilizer application and the increasing of conservation areas, such as field filter strips.