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Groundwater nutrient concentrations during prairie reconstruction on an Iowa landscape

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

By:
, , , , and
DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2010.08.003

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Abstract

One anticipated benefit of ecosystem restoration is water quality improvement. This study evaluated NO3-N and phosphorus in subsurface waters during prairie establishment following decades of row-crop agriculture. A prairie seeding in late 2003 became established in 2006. Wells and suction cup samplers were monitored for NO3-N and phosphorus. Nitrate-N varied with time and landscape position. Non-detectable NO3-N concentrations became modal along ephemeral drainageways in 2006, when average concentrations in uplands first became <10mg NO3-NL-1. This decline continued and upland groundwater averaged near 2mg NO3-NL-1 after 2007. The longer time lag in NO3-N response in uplands was attributed to greater quantities of leachable N in upland subsoils. Spatial differences in vadose-zone travel times were less important, considering water table dynamics. Phosphorus showed a contrasting landscape pattern, without any obvious temporal trend. Phosphorus was greatest along and near ephemeral drainageways. Sediment accumulation from upland agricultural erosion provided a source of P along drainageways, where shallow, reductive groundwater increased P solubility. Phosphorus exceeded eutrophication risk thresholds in these lower areas, where saturation-excess runoff could readily transport P to surface waters. Legacy impacts of past agricultural erosion and sedimentation may include soluble phosphorus in shallow groundwater, at sites prone to saturation-excess runoff. ?? 2010.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Groundwater nutrient concentrations during prairie reconstruction on an Iowa landscape
Series title:
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
DOI:
10.1016/j.agee.2010.08.003
Volume
139
Issue:
1-2
Year Published:
2010
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
First page:
206
Last page:
213