Modelling the effects of land-use modifications to control nutrient loads from an agricultural catchment in Western Australia

C. Zammit, M. Sivapalan, P. Kelsey, N. R. Viney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The estuary of the Swan and Canning Rivers in Western Australia is becoming increasingly prone to algal blooms, fish deaths and other biochemical problems that are thought to be associated with increasing eutrophication. Phosphorus and nitrogen enrichment are seen as the two most common causes of such eutrophication, with both elements being transported in streamflow and with concentrations strongly dependent upon land-use in the catchment. Many of the efforts to prevent and control eutrophication in the estuary are focused on managing land-use within the catchment. In this paper, the large-scale catchment model (LASCAM) is applied to Ellen Brook, a rural catchment located within the Swan River catchment, to simulate catchment exports of phosphorus and nitrogen, under a range of land cover scenarios that are designed to control the eutrophication. The scenarios, which are related to different management options for the catchment, are: (i) reforestation of agricultural land; (ii) reduction in fertiliser application; and (iii) urbanisation following a highway development. The model results show that: (i) full reforestation of agricultural land is expected to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen export by 50 and 85%, respectively; (ii) a proportionally greater reduction of phosphorus and nitrogen export occurs for smaller areas of reforestation than for larger areas; (iii) reduction in phosphorus fertiliser application produces a linear response with respect to phosphorus export; (iv) urbanisation increases runoff due to the larger impermeable areas causing an increase of overland flow during storms; and (v) phosphorus and nitrogen loads are expected to increase about 4 and 12%, respectively, during the 10 years following urbanisation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number1 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Sep 10 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Agricultural catchments
  • Eutrophication
  • Land-use management
  • Nutrient loads
  • Water quality modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling


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