Research for the Environment

Project Sediment and phosphorus delivery from an agricultural watershed in the Eastern Harz Hills of Germany
Headed by Dr. M. Rode (Department Hydrological Modelling), Prof. Dr. R. Meißner (Department Soil Science)
Personnel Luna Bharati; Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Gerald Wenk Wasserwirtschaft. Hochschule- Magdeburg; Landwirtschaftliche Fakultät Martin-Luther-Universität. Halle-Wittenberg
Time Period 04.00 - 03.03

Brief description:

Research Objectives

The objective of the research project is to investigate the various processes, pathways and forms of sediment and phosphorus delivery from a 144ha. agricultural watershed located in the Harz hills of Germany. The three major research activities consist of

  1. Continuous monitoring of stream discharge and the quantitative measurement of concentrations and loads of suspended sediment and phosphorus.
    • Suspended sediment and the various forms of P (total P, particulate P, dissolved P and soluble reactive P) are being measured in the stream during both high-flow and low-flow periods.
    • By-weekly sampling of tile drains for suspended sediment and phosphorus concentrations are being carried out.

  2. Identification of suspended sediment and phosphorus sources with the use of the fingerprinting technique
    • The radionuclides Cs137 , Pb210 and Total Phosphorus are being used to identify the nature and the spatial location of the major sediment sources operating within the drainage basin.

  3. Application of Computer models
    • The hydrological model WaSim-ETH and the pollutant transport models Erosion-3D and AGNPS (version 5) are being validated using measured field data.

Research Site

The Schafertal watershed is located in the Eastern Harz mountains. The catchment area is 1,44 square kilometres and the average slope is 6.1%. The small creek Schaferbach which drains the watershed is 1755 meters long. 81% of the watershed is intensively cultivated. According to the FAO classification system, the soil is dominated by Eutric Cambisols and Eutric Podzoluvisols and the area bordering the stream consists of Humus gley and Eutric Fluvisols. The average annual rainfall is 635mm. The upper half of the watershed is artificially drained. There are a total of 21 tiles, which lie perpendicular to the stream and terminate at the stream bank. The current drainage system was installed in the mid 1970's.


Moderation of the development aid policy forum of the Hanns-Seidel- Foundation on River Basins ("Flussgebiete: Lebensadern oder Krisenzonen? Erfahrungsaustausch Europa – Südasien"), Munich (Dr. Karthe).

Advisory Committee Meeting. World Water Quality Assessment activities, Magdeburg.

Eröffnung der MOBICOS-Plattform

Recent Publications

Rode, M., Hartwig, M., Wagenschein, D., Kebede Gurmessa, T., Borchardt, D., (2015):
The importance of hyporheic zone processes on ecological functioning and solute transport of streams and rivers
In: Chicharo, L., Müller, F., Fohrer, N., (eds.)
Ecosystem services and river basin ecohydrology
Springer, Dordrecht, p. 57 - 82

Hülsmann, L., Geyer, T., Schweitzer, C., Priess, J., Karthe, D., (2015): The effect of subarctic conditions on water resources: initial results and limitations of the SWAT model applied to the Kharaa River Basin in Northern Mongolia Environ. Earth Sci. 73 (2), 581 - 592

Kirschke, S., Richter, S., Völker, J., (2015): Management-Indikatoren zur Bewertung des Umsetzungsprozesses der WRRL. Ein konzeptioneller und empirischer Beitrag In: Evers, M., Diekkrüger, B., (Hrsg.) Aktuelle Herausforderungen im Flussgebiets- und Hochwassermanagement : Prozesse, Methoden, Konzepte. Beiträge zum Tag der Hydrologie am 19./20. März 2015 an der Universität Bonn Forum für Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung 35 Deutsche Vereinigung für Wasserwirtschaft, Abwasser und Abfall (DWA), Hennef, S. 255 - 264

Rangel-Peraza, J.G., de Anda, J., González-Farías, F.A., Rode, M., Sanhouse-García, A., Bustos-Terrones, Y.A., (2015): Assessment of heavy metals in sediment of Aguamilpa Dam, Mexico Environ. Monit. Assess. 187 (3), art. 134

Theuring, P., Collins, A.L., Rode, M., (2015): Source identification of fine-grained suspended sediment in the Kharaa River basin, northern Mongolia Sci. Total Environ. 526 , 77 - 87

Chen, C., Börnick, H., Cai, Q., Dai, X., Jähnig, S.C., Kong, Y., Krebs, P., Kuenzer, C., Kunstmann, H., Liu, Y., Nixdorf, , Nixdorf, E., Pang, Z., Rode, M., Schueth, C., Song, Y., Yue, T., Zhou, K., Zhang, J., Kolditz, O., (2015): Challenges and opportunities of German-Chinese cooperation in water science and technology Environ. Earth Sci. 73 (8), 4861 - 4871

Kok, K., Bärlund, I., Flörke, M., Holman, I., Gramberger, M., Sendzimir, J., Stuch, B., Zellmer, K., (2015): European participatory scenario development: strengthening the link between stories and models Clim. Change 128 (3-4), 187 - 200