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Assessing the effectiveness of split fertilization and cover crop cultivation in order to conserve soil and water resources and improve crop productivity


  • Maharjan, Ganga Ram
  • Ruidisch, Marianne
  • Shope, Christopher L.
  • Choi, Kwanghun
  • Huwe, Bernd
  • Kim, Seong Joon
  • Tenhunen, John
  • Arnhold, Sebastian


Intensive agricultural practices implemented to secure increased crop yields have potentially negative environmental effects due to the generation of sediment and nutrients from agricultural fields. The monsoon climate and current agricultural practices on mountainous landscapes of the Haean catchment in South Korea have significantly affected water quality by transporting sediment and nutrients to downstream water bodies. The aim of this study is to suggest strategies for a permanent reduction of sediment and nitrate from this catchment through an efficient application of best management practices (BMPs). We applied three BMPs; split fertilizer application (SF), winter cover crop cultivation (CC), and a combination of the two (SFCC) to major dryland crops (cabbage, potato, radish and soybean) in order to investigate their effectiveness at the catchment scale through the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. We found that the SF scenario reduced nitrate pollution while sediment and crop yield did not change relative to the baseline (BL) scenario. The application of the CC scenario reduces both sediment and nitrate load while crop yields increased. The combination of split fertilization and cover cropping (SFCC) showed the highest positive effect on reducing sediment and nitrate and increasing crop yields compared to a single application. We estimated the variability in the effectiveness of BMPs for major crop types and could demonstrate that specific sites and crop types, such as soybean, were less influential in reducing sediment and nitrate loads. Those sites and crops could be considered for additional BMP measures to mitigate water deterioration by target pollutants. Recommendations for BMP applications should also consider minor crops and other land use types in order to reduce overall water pollution and efficiently improve crop yields in this catchment.

Suggested Citation

  • Maharjan, Ganga Ram & Ruidisch, Marianne & Shope, Christopher L. & Choi, Kwanghun & Huwe, Bernd & Kim, Seong Joon & Tenhunen, John & Arnhold, Sebastian, 2016. "Assessing the effectiveness of split fertilization and cover crop cultivation in order to conserve soil and water resources and improve crop productivity," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 305-318.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:163:y:2016:i:c:p:305-318
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2015.10.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pushpa Tuppad & Narayanan Kannan & Raghavan Srinivasan & Colleen Rossi & Jeffrey Arnold, 2010. "Simulation of Agricultural Management Alternatives for Watershed Protection," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 24(12), pages 3115-3144, September.
    2. Ullrich, Antje & Volk, Martin, 2009. "Application of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to predict the impact of alternative management practices on water quality and quantity," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(8), pages 1207-1217, August.
    3. Scherr, Sara J. & Yadav, Satya N., 1996. "Land degradation in the developing world: implications for food, agriculture, and the environment to 2020," 2020 vision discussion papers 14, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Philip W. Gassman & Manuel R. Reyes & Colleen H. Green & Jeffrey G. Arnold, 2007. "Soil and Water Assessment Tool: Historical Development, Applications, and Future Research Directions, The," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 07-wp443, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
    5. Lindenschmidt, Karl-Erich & Fleischbein, Katrin & Baborowski, Martina, 2007. "Structural uncertainty in a river water quality modelling system," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 204(3), pages 289-300.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jang, Sun Sook & Ahn, So Ra & Kim, Seong Joon, 2017. "Evaluation of executable best management practices in Haean highland agricultural catchment of South Korea using SWAT," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 180(PB), pages 224-234.
    2. Sith, Ratino & Watanabe, Atsushi & Nakamura, Takashi & Yamamoto, Takahiro & Nadaoka, Kazuo, 2019. "Assessment of water quality and evaluation of best management practices in a small agricultural watershed adjacent to Coral Reef area in Japan," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 213(C), pages 659-673.


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