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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Forms and Concentration of Phosphorus in Drainage Water of Twenty-Seven Tile-Drained Soils


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 27 No. 3, p. 721-728
    Received: Feb 17, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): beauchemins@em.agr.ca
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  1. Suzanne Beauchemin *,
  2. R. R. Simard and
  3. D. Cluis
  1. INRS-eau, 2800 Einstein, P.O. Box 7500, Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada, G1V 4C7.



In most mineral soils, P leaching is rarely viewed as an important environmental issue. However, P accumulation and decreased P sorption capacities in surface horizons of long-term fertilized soils may increase downward P movement. The objective of this study was to measure the concentration and characterize the P forms in drainage waters from nine soil series widely differing in clay content. Twenty-seven sites were sampled in 1994 and 1995 from an intensively cropped area of the province of Quebec, Canada. Drainage waters were characterized for their total P (TP), dissolved reactive P (DRP), dissolved organic P (DOP), and total particulate P (TPP) contents. The Quebec surface water quality standard of 0.03 mg TP L1 was exceeded in 14 out of 27 sites in 1994 but only in 6 out of 25 sites in 1995. Of the 14 sites exceeding 0.03 mg TP L−1 in 1994, 10 were clayey soils. Under these circumstances, more than 50% of the TP was as TPP whereas DOP forms represented <30%. In 1995, TPP forms accounted for, on average, <50% of TP and DOP accounted for more than 40% of the TP concentrations. This study suggests that flat clayey soils of medium to rich P status may be particularly at risk of exceeding water quality standards in subsurface runoff. Phosphorus losses in particulate form may be important in subsurface runoff from clayey soils when weather conditions favor rapid flow through cracks or macropores.

Contribution of the Soils and Crops Research Centre no. 565.

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