Agriculture has both direct and indirect effects on quality of surface water and is one of the key activities causing water quality degradation. Its environmental impact can be evaluated by the determination of indicators of the quality of water bodies that collect drainage and runoff waters from agricultural watersheds. For this research, the water quality draining from three watersheds, totally or partially cultivated, all within the Po river valley (Italy), was determined, using chemical indicators (N-NO3 and N-NH4 concentration, N balance), trophic status (chlorophyll-a concentration) and benthic population indexes. Together, they should provide an overview of the water status, which is supposed to be strictly related to the land use and the management. Results show that the chemical parameters are well related to land use and farming management: intensive agricultural activity leads to high N-NO3 concentration in water and N surplus and vice versa. The chlorophyll-a concentration follows the same trend, being linked to nitrogen loads and land use. Not always there is accordance between chemical and biological indicators: no direct correspondence is evident between the N-NO3 concentration in waters and benthic community. Its presence and abundance seems to be mostly correlated with the geomorphology, hydrology, riparian strips, etc. of the habitat than to the land use. Only the integration of chemical and biological parameters allows a correct understanding of the state of health of water body and benthic communities.

Chemical and biological indicators of water quality in three agricultural watersheds of the Po valley, Italy

PIERI, LINDA;VENTURA, FRANCESCA;VENTURA, MAURIZIO;PONTI, MASSIMO;PISTOCCHI, ROSSELLA;ALBERTAZZI, SERGIO;VIGNUDELLI, MARCO;ROSSI, PAOLA
2011

Abstract

Agriculture has both direct and indirect effects on quality of surface water and is one of the key activities causing water quality degradation. Its environmental impact can be evaluated by the determination of indicators of the quality of water bodies that collect drainage and runoff waters from agricultural watersheds. For this research, the water quality draining from three watersheds, totally or partially cultivated, all within the Po river valley (Italy), was determined, using chemical indicators (N-NO3 and N-NH4 concentration, N balance), trophic status (chlorophyll-a concentration) and benthic population indexes. Together, they should provide an overview of the water status, which is supposed to be strictly related to the land use and the management. Results show that the chemical parameters are well related to land use and farming management: intensive agricultural activity leads to high N-NO3 concentration in water and N surplus and vice versa. The chlorophyll-a concentration follows the same trend, being linked to nitrogen loads and land use. Not always there is accordance between chemical and biological indicators: no direct correspondence is evident between the N-NO3 concentration in waters and benthic community. Its presence and abundance seems to be mostly correlated with the geomorphology, hydrology, riparian strips, etc. of the habitat than to the land use. Only the integration of chemical and biological parameters allows a correct understanding of the state of health of water body and benthic communities.
ITALIAN JOURNAL OF AGRONOMY
PIERI L.; VENTURA F.; VENTURA M.; TAGLIAVINI M.; PONTI M.; PISTOCCHI R.; ALBERTAZZI S.; VIGNUDELLI M.; ROSSI PISA P.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/109019
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