Chinese rivers full of phosphate and nitrogen

Published on
April 6, 2016

Chinese rivers contain alarming quantities of nitrogen and phosphate thanks to Chinese agricultural policy, writes PhD candidate Maryna Strokal of Environmental Systems Analysis and her Chinese and Wageningen colleagues in Resource, the independent news magazine of Wageningen UR.

Changes to Chinese agriculture in the past few decades have led to a livestock sector which is disconnected from crop production, observe the researchers. This means that manure produced on livestock farms does not get used to improve the fertility of arable farmland. In 2000 between 30 and 70 percent of all animal manure was dumped in rivers, states Strokal. By comparison, this figure was 5 percent in 1970. Meanwhile the number of livestock animals in China has doubled in those 30 years.


Strokal, Maryna, Lin Ma, Zhaohai Bai, Shengji Luan, Carolien Kroeze, Oene Oenema, Gerard Velthof, Fusuo Zhang (2016). Alarming nutrient pollution of Chinese rivers as a result of agricultural transitions. Environmental Research Letters 11 (2016)2.