The influence of Zn speciation on Zn transport by drainage from different soils to surface water is examined in a stream catchment in an agricultural area. Drainage waters were collected from two types of soils, a mineral soil (MS) and a soil rich in organic matter (OS) by means of artificial drainage pipes. The speciation of dissolved Zn in the stream and the drainage waters was determined using ligand-exchange and voltammetry. About 50–95% of dissolved Zn is bound in strong complexes, and the free Zn2+ ion concentration is in the range of 1–16% of dissolved Zn. A substantial part of Zn is present in weaker organic or inorganic complexes. The simulated Zn speciation using the WHAM VI model is compared to the determined speciation. Free Zn2+ concentrations predicted by the WHAM VI model are generally higher than the analytically determined free Zn2+, but are mostly within the same order of magnitude. Effects of different soil organic matter content on Zn speciation and transport are discussed. Zn speciation in the drainage at the OS site is influenced by the distribution of organic matter between the solid and solution phase. The abundant organic Zn complexes in solution contribute to facilitate Zn transport from soil into surface waters, through the drainage at the OS site. Drainage from the OS site contributes about twice as much Zn input to the receiving water as the MS soil, as related to specific area. The mineral soil contains much lower organic matter, and a part of Zn bound with inorganic phases can hardly be released by dissolved organic ligands, leading to much higher Zn retention at the MS site.
agricultural soilsoil drainagesurface waterZn inputZn speciationZn transport by drainage