Land use and nitrogen export in the Piracicaba River basin, Southeast Brazil
- ISSN: 01682563
Anthropogenic N inputs and riverine export were determined for a meso-scale river basin in one of the most developed and economically important regions of South America. The Piracicaba River basin is located in southeastern Brazil and drains into a tributary of the Parana River. The basin supports over 3 million people about 2% of the population of Brazil) with intensive agricultural and industrial activities. During two years from 1995 to 1997, biweekly samples were collected at 10 stations along the Piracicaba River and its tributaries for analyses of dissolved and particulate N. The average annual flux of dissolved inorganic N and total N increased by a factor of 15 and 20 times, respectively, from the headwaters to the lower reaches of the main channel, whereas discharge increased by only 7 times. On a per area basis, the export of TN varied according to land use and was significantly correlated to the net input of anthropogenic N. Among 10 sub-catchments composing the basin, areas mostly covered by pasture and forest had the lowest export, whereas more agricultural and urban areas had higher export. The amount of N exported from each sub-catchment varied widely, but inputs were consistently higher than fluvial outputs. Losses and retention of N occurred throughout the basin but were especially high in the sub-catchment with a main-stem reservoir, suggesting that aquatic processing plays an important role in controlling riverine N export. Total net anthropogenic input to the Piracicaba River basin was 4,500 (+/- 900) kg N km(-2) yr(-1) of which about 40% was exported via fluvial outputs.