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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Nov 15;9(11):4170-86. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9114170.

A statistical assessment of the impact of agricultural land use intensity on regional surface water quality at multiple scales.

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  • 1Institute of Agricultural Integrated Development, Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, No.9 Shu Guang Hua Yuan Middle Road, Beijing 100097, China.


Understanding the effects of intensive agricultural land use activities on water resources is essential for natural resource management and environmental improvement. In this paper, multi-scale nested watersheds were delineated and the relationships between two representative water quality indexes and agricultural land use intensity were assessed and quantified for the year 2000 using multi-scale regression analysis. The results show that the log-transformed nitrate-nitrogen (NO(3)-N) index exhibited a relationship with chemical fertilizer input intensity and several natural factors, including soil loss, rainfall and sunlight at the first order watershed scale, while permanganate index (COD(Mn)) had a positive relationship with another two input intensities of pesticides and agricultural plastic mulch and organic manure at the fifth order watershed scale. The first order watershed and the fifth order watershed were considered as the watershed adaptive response units for NO(3)-N and COD(Mn), respectively. The adjustment of agricultural input and its intensity may be carried out inside the individual watershed adaptive response unit. The multiple linear regression model demonstrated the cause-and-effect relationship between agricultural land use intensity and stream water quality at multiple scales, which is an important factor for the maintenance of stream water quality.

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