Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 30, pp 24046–24053 | Cite as

Cadmium losses in overland flow from an agricultural soil

  • Colin William Gray
  • Ross Martin Monaghan
  • Tom Orchiston
  • Seth Laurenson
  • Jo-Anne Cavanagh
Short Research and Discussion Article


Cadmium (Cd) transport in overland flow from agricultural soils is potentially important when trying to predict future soil Cd concentrations, but at present there is little information on the magnitude of loss from this pathway. This study measured Cd concentrations and fluxes in overland flow from a catchment where cattle winter-grazed a forage crop (kale) (Brassica oleracea) in year one and measurements continued in year two when the catchment was returned to pasture and grazed by sheep. Flow-weighted mean concentrations (FWMC) of total, particulate and dissolved Cd in overland flow events from the forage crop were 0.49, 0.41 and 0.08 μg L−1, respectively. In contrast, no dissolved Cd was detected in overland flow from pasture, with a FWMC of total Cd of 0.09 μg L−1. In line with the Cd concentrations, total Cd fluxes were greater from the forage crop (0.06 g Cd ha−1 year−1) than from pasture (0.04 g Cd ha−1 year−1). Cadmium losses in overland flow were relatively minor compared with those reported for other pathways such as plant uptake or subsurface flow. Further, compared to the amount of Cd that is currently added to soil in a maintenance application of phosphate fertiliser (30 kg P ha−1 year−1) which is on average 5.5 g Cd ha−1, Cd losses in overland flow represented < 1% of inputs. Measurement of Cd losses in overland flow should be undertaken at other sites to confirm the low Cd losses found in this study, along with the distribution between dissolved and particulate fractions.


Forage crop Pasture Sheep Cow Overland flow Cadmium 



Chikako van Koten provided statistical advice and analysis. Funding for this work was provided by the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand (FANZ) and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment AgResearch Core funding contract number A22699.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin William Gray
    • 1
  • Ross Martin Monaghan
    • 2
  • Tom Orchiston
    • 2
  • Seth Laurenson
    • 1
  • Jo-Anne Cavanagh
    • 3
  1. 1.AgResearch, Lincoln Research CentreChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.AgResearch, Invermay Agricultural CentreMosgielNew Zealand
  3. 3.Landcare ResearchLincolnNew Zealand

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