Rasouli, S., Whalen, J. K. and Madramootoo, C. A. 2014. Review: Reducing residual soil nitrogen losses from agroecosystems for surface water protection in Quebec and Ontario, Canada: Best management practices, policies and perspectives. Can. J. Soil Sci. 94: 109-127. Eutrophication and cyanobacteria blooms, a growing problem in many of Quebec and Ontario's lakes and rivers, are largely attributed to the phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) emanating from intensively cropped agricultural fields. In fact, 49% of N loading in surface waters comes from runoff and leaching from fertilized soils and livestock operations. The residual soil nitrogen (RSN), which remains in soil at the end of the growing season, contains soluble and particulate forms of N that are prone to being transported from agricultural fields to waterways. Policies and best management practices (BMPs) to regulate manure storage and restrict fertilizer and manure spreading can help in reducing N losses from agroecosystems. However, reduction of RSN also requires an understanding of the complex interactions between climate, soil type, topography, hydrology and cropping systems. Reducing N losses from agroecosystems can be achieved through careful accounting for all N inputs (e.g., N credits for legumes and manure inputs) in nutrient management plans, including those applied in previous years, as well as the strategic implementation of multiple BMPs and calibrated soil N testing for crops with high N requirements. We conclude that increasing farmer awareness and motivation to implement BMPs will be important in reducing RSN. Programs to promote communication between farmers and researchers, crop advisors and provincial ministries of agriculture and the environment are recommended.
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Vol. 94 • No. 2