Published Oct 27, 2009

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Jaime Burbano-Girón, BSc

Efraín Antonio Domínguez, PhD

Andrés Etter, PhD



The combination of deforestation due to agricultural frontier expansion and the increased use of fertilizers due to agricultural intensification has lead to an increase in the load of sediments and pollutants that negatively affect water quality in rural areas. This problem is particularly serious in the Colombian Andean region. This study applies a hydrological simulation model to compare the effect of four vegetable coverage management scenarios on nutrient migration from agricultural practices in the Upper Magdalena river basin. The simulation of water movement over hillsides and channels, which was run using the MIKE SHE and MIKE 11 models, showed an acceptable performance (S/ σΔ =0.84, R=0.82, R2=0.67). However, pollutant migration showed a very low sensitivity to vegetable coverage in the configuration of the different model simulations (p > 0.05), with reductions in pollutant loads ranging only between 2 and 4%. Such reductions have to do with the intrinsic properties of vegetation (which act like a barrier to sediment flow,) with its ability to increase soil infiltration (therefore reducing runoff,) and with nutrient absorption by plants.


Geographic information systems, water quality, hydrologic cycleSistemas de información geográfica, calidad del agua, ciclo hidrológico

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How to Cite
Burbano-Girón, J., Domínguez, E. A., & Etter, A. (2009). Modeling the effect of cover scenarios on nutrient migration (N, P2O5) in the upper Magdalena river Basin (Huila, Colombia). Ingenieria Y Universidad, 13(2). Retrieved from