Uptake and Release of Phosphorus from Overland Flow in a Stream Environment
- R. W. McDowell * and
- A. N. Sharpley
Phosphorus runoff from agricultural fields has been linked to freshwater eutrophication. However, edge-of-field P losses can be modified by benthic sediments during stream flow by physiochemical processes associated with Al, Fe, and Ca, and by biological assimilation. We investigated fluvial P when exposed to stream-bed sediments (top 3 cm) collected from seven sites representing forested and agricultural areas (pasture and cultivated), in a mixed-land-use watershed. Sediment was placed in a 10-m-long, 0.2-m-wide fluvarium to a 3-cm depth and water was recirculated over the sediment at 2 L s−1 and 5% slope. When overland flow (4 mg dissolved reactive phosphorus [DRP] and 9 mg total phosphorus [TP] L−1) from manured soils was first recirculated, P uptake was associated with Al and Fe hydrous oxides for sediments from forested areas (pH 5.2–5.4) and by Ca for sediments from agricultural areas (pH 6.5–7.2). A large increase (up to 200%) in readily available P NH4Cl fraction was noted. After 24 h, DRP concentration in channel flow was related to sediment solution P concentration at which no net sorption or desorption of P occurs (EPC0) (r 2 = 0.77), indicating quasi-equilibrium. When fresh water (approximately 0.005 mg P L−1; mean base flow DRP at seven sites) was recirculated over the sediments for 24 h, P release kinetics followed an exponential function. Microbial biomass P accounted for 34 to 43% of sediment P uptake from manure-rich overland flow. Although abiotic sediment processes played a dominant role in determining P uptake, biotic process are clearly important and both should be considered along with the location and management of landscape inputs for remedial strategies to be effective.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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