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Environ Pollut. 1988;54(3-4):249-74.

Ecosystem effects of atmospheric deposition of nitrogen in The Netherlands.

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  • 1Department of Soil Science and Geology, Agricultural University, POB 37, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Atmospheric deposition of inorganic N, mainly ammonium volatilized from manure produced in intensive stockbreeding, on sensitive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in The Netherlands is in the order of 40 to 80 kg ha(-1) year(-1). Proven effects of this deposition are (i) eutrophication with N, leading to floristic changes (ii) acidification of base-poor sandy soils and of moorland pools, leading to higher concentrations of dissolved, potentially toxic metals such as Al3+, and (iii) increased levels of nitrate in groundwater below woodlands. In acid forest soils, but not in soils under heathland, nitrification and leaching of nitrate is common. However, in very poor sandy forest soils and at very high ammonium inputs, nitrification may be too slow to prevent the development of high concentrations of ammonium. Both excessive acidification and excessive levels of ammonium probably play an important role in the general forest decline, which is most severe in the southern and central parts of the country, where ammonium inputs are highest.

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