Characterisation of agricultural drainage ditch sediments along the phosphorus transfer continuum in two contrasting headwater catchments

Article


Shore, Mairead, Jordan, Phil, Mellander, Per-Erik, Kelly-Quinn, Mary, Daly, Karen, Sims, James Tom, Wall, David P. and Melland, Alice Rowena. 2016. "Characterisation of agricultural drainage ditch sediments along the phosphorus transfer continuum in two contrasting headwater catchments." Journal of Soils and Sediments: protection, risk assessment and remediation. 16 (5), pp. 1643-1654. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-015-1330-0
Article Title

Characterisation of agricultural drainage ditch sediments along the phosphorus transfer continuum in two contrasting headwater catchments

ERA Journal ID31051
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsShore, Mairead (Author), Jordan, Phil (Author), Mellander, Per-Erik (Author), Kelly-Quinn, Mary (Author), Daly, Karen (Author), Sims, James Tom (Author), Wall, David P. (Author) and Melland, Alice Rowena (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Soils and Sediments: protection, risk assessment and remediation
Journal Citation16 (5), pp. 1643-1654
Number of Pages12
Year2016
Place of PublicationGermany
ISSN1439-0108
1614-7480
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-015-1330-0
Abstract

Purpose: This study investigated the phosphorus (P) source, mobilisation and transport potential of ditch bed sediments as well as surrounding field and bank soils in two agricultural headwater catchments with contrasting soil drainage capacities. This information is important for discerning the potential for ditches to attenuate or augment transfers of P from upstream sources and thus for developing appropriate management strategies for these features. Materials and methods: Phosphorus sources were characterised using the Mehlich3-P, water-soluble P and total P tests. Phosphorus mobilisation potential was characterised using the Mehlich3-AL/P, Mehlich3-Ca/P and DESPRAL P tests. Phosphorus transport potential was characterised using data collected on the presence/absence of surface water in ditches during field surveys and downstream turbidity data. Results and discussion: Ditch sediments had similar P source contents (Mehlich3-P, water-soluble P and total P) to the surrounding field soils and higher P contents than bank soils. However, calcium contents of sediments in the poorly drained catchment reflected the deep sub-soils rather than the surrounding field and bank soils. Mehlich3-Al/P and Mehlich3-Ca/P contents of ditch sediments in the well (non-calcareous) and poorly (calcareous) drained catchments respectively indicated potential for P retention (above thresholds of 11.7 and 74, respectively). However, sediments were less aggregated than field soils and may mobilise more particulate P (PP) during rain events. Nevertheless, the majority of surveyed ditches dried out from March to September 2011; thus, their potential to mobilise PP may be less important than their capacity to attenuate soluble and PP during this time. Conclusions: In these and similar catchments, soluble P attenuation and particulate P mobilisation should be maximised and minimised, respectively, for example, by cleaning out the sediments before they become saturated with P and encouraging vegetation growth on ditch beds. This study also highlighted the influence of deep sub-soils on soluble P retention in ditches and thus the utility of characterising soils below depths normally included in soil classifications.

Keywordsattenuation, drainage ditches, mobilisation, phosphorus, sediment
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020300201. Agricultural hydrology
300202. Agricultural land management
410404. Environmental management
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Byline AffiliationsTeagasc, Ireland
University of Ulster, United Kingdom
Teagasc Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland
University College Dublin, Ireland
University of Delaware, United States
National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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