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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 6, p. 2111-2121
    Received: Apr 14, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): richard.mcdowell@agresearch.co.nz


Particulate Phosphorus Transport within Stream Flow of an Agricultural Catchment

  1. R. W. McDowell *a and
  2. R. J. Wilcockb
  1. a AgResearch Ltd, Invermay Agricultural Centre, Private Bag 50034, Mosgiel, New Zealand
    b National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 11 115, Hamilton, New Zealand


There is interest in quantifying phosphorus (P) loss from intensively grazed dairy landscapes to identify key pathways and target remediation methods. The Bog Burn drains a dairying catchment in Southland, New Zealand, and has been monitored at fortnightly intervals over a 12-mo period at four sites for suspended sediment (SS), dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP), and total phosphorus (TP). Time-integrated samplers, deployed at 0.6 median water depth at each site (calculated from previous year's flow data), collected sediment samples, which were analyzed for SS, bioavailable phosphorus (BAP), and TP. Mean concentrations of DRP and TP in stream flow and BAP and TP in sediment were generally highest in summer or autumn (0.043 mg DRP L−1, 0.160 mg TP L−1, 173 mg BAP kg−1, 2228 mg TP kg−1) and lowest in winter or spring (0.012 mg DRP L−1, 0.034 mg TP L−1, 6 mg BAP kg−1, 711 mg TP kg−1), while loads were highest in winter. Analysis of 137Cs concentrations in trapped sediment, topsoil, subsoil, and stream bed and bank sediment indicated that trapped sediment was derived from topsoil and entered the stream either through tile drainage or, to a lesser extent, overland flow. Because concentrations of DRP and TP in stream flow are in excess of recommended limits for good water quality (>0.01 mg DRP L−1, 0.033 mg TP L−1), management should focus on the topsoil and specifically on decreasing P loss via tile drainage. This is best achieved by decreasing soil Olsen P concentrations, especially because, on average, Olsen P concentrations in the catchment were above the agronomic optimum.

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Copyright © 2004. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA