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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 2, p. 633-641
    Received: Apr 8, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): risto.uusitalo@mtt.fi
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Phosphorus in Runoff Assessed by Anion Exchange Resin Extraction and an Algal Assay

  1. Risto Uusitalo * and
  2. Petri Ekholm
  1. Finnish Environment Institute, P.O. Box 140, FIN-00251 Helsinki, Finland


Eutrophication of surface waters can be accelerated by agricultural inputs of phosphorus (P), provided that P is in a form that can be utilized by aquatic algae. We studied anion exchange resin (AER) extraction and a dual culture algal assay (DCAA) for the determination of potentially algal-available P in water samples without sediment preconcentration. Our material consisted of agricultural and forest runoff and wastewaters. The results obtained by the two methods were essentially equal when the samples contained only small amounts of particulate phosphorus (PP) in relation to dissolved molybdate-reactive phosphorus (DRP). However, in turbid agricultural runoff, P extracted with AER averaged 72% (n = 17) of the P yield of the 3-wk DCAA (R 2 = 0.94). When the runoff samples were diluted for the AER extraction in the same manner as for the DCAA, the AER-P yield increased to 85% (n = 5) of DCAA-P. The minimum detectable value was greater for the AER test (41 μg L−1 AER-extractable P) than for the DCAA (7 μg L−1 DCAA-P). At concentrations greater than about 50 μg L−1 AER-P or DCAA-P, the accuracy of the methods was satisfactory, with the coefficient of variation in replicated analyses being less than 10% for the AER test and less than 20% for the DCAA. Other anions competing for the exchange sites of the AER decreased P recovery by 15 to 20% when their equivalent concentration exceeded about 4 mmolc L−1, and this effect was relatively constant over a large concentration range. We consider that AER extraction is a suitable low-cost method to estimate the algal availability of P in runoff samples.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.32:633–641.