Characterisation of agricultural drainage ditch sediments along the phosphorus transfer continuum in two contrasting headwater catchments
- 312 Downloads
This study investigated the phosphorus (P) source, mobilisation and transport potential of ditch bed sediments as well as surrounding field and bank soils in two agricultural headwater catchments with contrasting soil drainage capacities. This information is important for discerning the potential for ditches to attenuate or augment transfers of P from upstream sources and thus for developing appropriate management strategies for these features.
Materials and methods
Phosphorus sources were characterised using the Mehlich3-P, water-soluble P and total P tests. Phosphorus mobilisation potential was characterised using the Mehlich3-AL/P, Mehlich3-Ca/P and DESPRAL P tests. Phosphorus transport potential was characterised using data collected on the presence/absence of surface water in ditches during field surveys and downstream turbidity data.
Results and discussion
Ditch sediments had similar P source contents (Mehlich3-P, water-soluble P and total P) to the surrounding field soils and higher P contents than bank soils. However, calcium contents of sediments in the poorly drained catchment reflected the deep sub-soils rather than the surrounding field and bank soils. Mehlich3-Al/P and Mehlich3-Ca/P contents of ditch sediments in the well (non-calcareous) and poorly (calcareous) drained catchments respectively indicated potential for P retention (above thresholds of 11.7 and 74, respectively). However, sediments were less aggregated than field soils and may mobilise more particulate P (PP) during rain events. Nevertheless, the majority of surveyed ditches dried out from March to September 2011; thus, their potential to mobilise PP may be less important than their capacity to attenuate soluble and PP during this time.
In these and similar catchments, soluble P attenuation and particulate P mobilisation should be maximised and minimised, respectively, for example, by cleaning out the sediments before they become saturated with P and encouraging vegetation growth on ditch beds. This study also highlighted the influence of deep sub-soils on soluble P retention in ditches and thus the utility of characterising soils below depths normally included in soil classifications.
KeywordsAttenuation Drainage ditches Mobilisation Phosphorus Sediment
This research is a part of the Agricultural Catchments Programme, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme. We acknowledge the contributions from programme scientists, technicians, technologists and advisors. We would also like to thank catchment farmers and their representatives for participation and access to farmland
- Bran L (1999) Bran Luebbe AA3 autoanalyser methods: G-109-93 and 94. Norderstedt, GermanyGoogle Scholar
- Coulter BS, Lalor S (eds) (2008) Major and micro nutrient advice for productive agricultural crops, 3rd edn. Teagasc, Wexford, p 116Google Scholar
- Daroub SH, Stuck JD, Lang TA, Diaz OA (2002) Particulate phosphorus in the Everglades Agricultural Area: II–Transport mechanisms. Inst. of Food and Agric. Sci., Ext. Office. Univ. of Florida, GainesvilleGoogle Scholar
- Djodjic F, Wallin M, Kyllmar K (2011) Phosphorus content in drainage ditch sediments from four agricultural catchments in Southern and Central Sweden. Catchment Science Conference. Teagasc/Defra, Wexford, Ireland, p 70, Mansion House, Dublin, Ireland, 14th - 16th September 2011Google Scholar
- ISO 11466 (1995) Soil quality—extraction of trace elements soluble in aqua regia. First ed.; International Organisation for StandardisationGoogle Scholar
- Kleinman PJA, Allen AL, Needelman BA, Sharpley AN, Vadas PA, Saporito LS, Folmar GJ, Bryant RB (2007) Dynamics of phosphorus transfers from heavily manured Coastal Plain soils to drainage ditches. J Soil Water Conserv 62:225–235Google Scholar
- McGrath D (1994) Organic micropollutant and trace element pollution of Irish soils. Sci Total Environ 164:125–133Google Scholar
- Morgan MF (1941) Chemical soil diagnosis by the universal soil testing system. Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station Bulletin 450Google Scholar
- Pautler MC, Sims JT (2000) Relationship between soil test P, soluble P and P saturation in Delaware soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64:765–733Google Scholar
- Persaud D, Jaagumagi R, Hayton A (1993) Guidelines for the protection and management of aquatic sediment quality in Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy, Ontario: Queens Printer for OntarioGoogle Scholar
- Sharpley AN (1995) Dependence of runoff phosphorus on extractable soil phosphorus. J Environ Qual 24:920–926Google Scholar
- Sharpley A, Krogstad T, Kleinman P, Haggard B, Shigaki F, Saporito L (2007) Managing natural processes in drainage ditches for non-point source phosphorus control. J Soil Water Conserv 62:197–206Google Scholar
- Sims JT, Heckendorn SE (1991) Methods of soil analysis—University of Delaware Soil Testing Laboratory. Coop. Bulletin No. 10. University of Delaware College of Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Experiment Station, Newark, DEGoogle Scholar
- Statistical Analysis System (2003) version 9.2; SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USAGoogle Scholar