Assessment of the spatial and temporal variations of water quality for agricultural lands with crop rotation in China by using a HYPE model

Yunxing Yin (Lead Author), Sanyuan Jiang , Charlotta Pers, Xiaoying Yang, Qun Liu, Jin Yuan , Mingxing Yao , Yi He, Xingzhang Luo, Zheng Zheng

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Many water quality models have been successfully used worldwide to predict nutrient losses from anthropogenically impacted catchments, but hydrological and nutrient simulations with little data are difficult considering the transfer of model parameters and complication of model calibration and validation. This study aims (i) to assess the performance capabilities of a new and relatively more advantageous model-hydrological predictions for the environment (HYPE) to simulate stream flow and nutrient load in ungauged agricultural areas by using a multi-site and multi-objective parameter calibration method and (ii) to investigate the temporal and spatial variations of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorous (TP) concentrations and loads with crop rotation using the model for the first time. A parameter estimation tool (PEST) was used to calibrate parameters, which shows that the parameters related to the effective soil porosity were most sensitive to hydrological modeling. N balance was largely controlled by soil denitrification processes, whereas P balance was influenced by the sedimentation rate and production/decay of P in rivers and lakes. The model reproduced the temporal and spatial variations of discharge and TN/TP relatively well in both calibration (2006–2008) and validation (2009–2010) periods. The lowest NSEs (Nash-Suttclife Efficiency) of discharge, daily TN load, and daily TP load were 0.74, 0.51, and 0.54, respectively. The seasonal variations of daily TN concentrations in the entire simulation period were insufficient, indicated that crop rotation changed the timing and amount of N output. Monthly TN and TP simulation yields revealed that nutrient outputs were abundant in summer in terms of the corresponding discharge. The area-weighted TN and TP load annual yields in five years showed that nutrient loads were extremely high along Hong and Ru rivers, especially in agricultural lands.
Original languageEnglish
Article number336
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2016


  • HYPE model
  • agricultural lands
  • multi-site and multi-objective calibration
  • nutrient modeling
  • crop rotation

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