Nitrate leaching losses and their control in a mixed farm system in the Cotswold Hills, England

K. D. Allingham, R. Cartwright, D. Donaghy, J. S. Conway, K. W. T. Goulding, Steve C. Jarvis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Nitrate leaching was measured for four years at the Royal Agricultural College ‘s Coates Farm in the Cotswolds, England. Coates is a typical Cotswold mixed farm with thin, well-drained calcareous soils especially prone to leaching. Over the duration of this study there were dairy, sheep and arable enterprises on the farm. A ‘Farm Gate’ nitrogen (N) budget was constructed. Small 120 m × 20 m ‘farmlets’ were sited in ten fields across the farm, covering all parts of the rotation, as the sites for detailed measurements. Each farmlet received the same management as the rest of the field in which they were situated. Using ceramic probes inserted to 60 cm, soil water was sampled every two weeks throughout the winter drainage season. The annual drainage varied from 135 mm under grassland in 1996/7 to 600 mm under cereals in 1998/9. Average N losses by leaching were determined mostly by rainfall and were 65 kg N ha–1 yr–1, accounting for 25% of the N inputs. Especially leaky parts of the rotation were the ploughing out of a lucerne ley and the grazing of stubble turnips with sheep, both typical Cotswold farm practices. The research highlights some of the difficulties in developing practicable, profitable management practices to decrease nitrate losses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-427
Number of pages7
JournalSoil Use and Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002


  • Nitrate
  • leaching
  • mixed farming
  • calcareous soils


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