Phosphorus Uptake and Release from Submerged Sediments in a Simulated Stream Channel Inundated with a Poultry Litter Source
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Northwest Arkansas, similar to many regions around the world, is home to intensive poultry production, which concentrates large amounts of nutrients in localized areas. Concerns over phosphorus (P) continue in these regions despite extensive conservation management efforts. Part of the concerns relates to the legacy effect of P in streams and the role of fluvial sediments in confounding land conservation measures. Sediment substrate was collected from five streams containing a variety of land uses in the Upper Illinois River Watershed (UIRW) to assess the buffering capacity of sediments on water column P. A purpose built fluvarium was used to determine sediment–P relationships during three flow phases: (I) baseflow (<0.005 mg P L−1), (II) uptake-enriched (1.8 mg P L−1), and (III) re-equilibration (<0.005 mg P L−1) where water was circulated over the sediment for 48 h at 0.001 m3 s−1 (1 L s−1). During each phase, flow was monitored and water sampled for determination of dissolved reactive P (DRP). In phase I, DRP reached equilibrium concentrations, which closely mimicked stream DRP at the time of sediment collection (R 2 = 0.77), and the highest concentration measured was 0.080 mg P L−1 and the lowest 0.016 mg P L−1. Sediments rapidly bound P (40 % within 1 h) during phase II. During phase II, 84 to 96 % of added P was removed from solution. Of this bound P, 1 to 7 % was released during phase III. Results indicate that fluvial sediments in the UIRW act as transient storage sites for P during high P events. Finally, streams that bound the most P during nutrient-rich flow released the least when returned to low P flow, indicating a greater ability to buffer P in streams.
KeywordsPhosphorus Streams Nutrient management Runoff
Funding for this project was through the Arkansas Water Resource Center and a USGS 104-B grant. Special thanks to Jason Corral, Stephanie Williamson, Bodie Drake, and Tarra Simmons for laboratory and field assistance. Also, thanks to Dr. Richard McDowell for his insights into operation of the fluvarium and Dr. Edward Gbur for assistance in statistical analysis and interpretation.
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