Effect of Water Table Depth on Nutrient Concentrations Below the Water Table in a Spodosol
Water table depth manipulations as implemented in sugarcane fields of Southwestern Florida, USA, were hypothesized to influence the nutrient concentrations below the water table. Concentrations of phosphorus (P), potassium (K), nitrogen (N), and bromide (Br−) were monitored above and below the water table using a column leaching experiment. Three columns were packed with Immokalee soil (A, E, and Bh horizons) classified as a spodosol and fertilizers (NPK) were applied on the soil surface as solids using rates of 11 kg P ha−1, 166 kg K ha−1, and 200 kg N ha−1. A fourth column where fertilizer mixture and bromide were not added acted as a blank. Potassium was also applied as KBr with bromide used as tracer for water movement. Water table was maintained at 30 cm for 6 weeks and lowered to 50 cm deep for another 6 weeks. Samplers were placed in A, E, and Bh horizons and outlets were placed at 30 and 50 cm deep to obtain solutions for monitoring nutrients and tracer. Solution samplers placed in E and Bh horizons were located below the water table. Slightly elevated P, N, and K concentrations in E horizon for a 50-cm water table depth treatment were observed. For both water table treatments, minimal loss of applied N, P, and K below the water table was observed. The results of the study have shown that movement of nutrients below the water table is slow, and depends on the type of nutrients applied and the water table depth.
KeywordsSpodosol Water table Leaching Nutrient Tracer
We thank Florida Department of Environmental Regulation for funding the project.