Reduction of solids and nutrient loss from agricultural land by tailwater recovery systems

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
By: , and 



Best management practices are being implemented throughout the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley with the aim of alleviating pressures placed on downstream aquatic systems by sediment and nutrient losses from agricultural land; however, research evaluating the performance of tailwater recovery (TWR) systems, an increasingly important practice, is limited. This study evaluated the ability of TWR systems to retain sediment and nutrients draining from agricultural landscapes. Composite flow-based samples were collected during flow events (precipitation or irrigation) over a two-year period in six TWR systems. Performance was evaluated by comparing concentrations and loads in water entering TWR systems (i.e., runoff or influent) from agricultural fields to water overflow exiting TWR systems (effluent). Tailwater recovery systems did not reduce concentrations of solids and nutrients, but did reduce loads of solids, phosphorus (P), and nitrogen (N) by 43%, 32%, and 44%, respectively. Annual mean load reductions were 1,142 kg solids, 0.7 kg of P, and 3.8 kg of N. Performance of TWR systems was influenced by effluent volume, system fullness, time since the previous event, and capacity of the TWR system. Mechanistically, TWR systems retain runoff on the agricultural landscape, thereby reducing the amount of sediment and nutrients entering downstream waterbodies. System performance can be improved through manipulation of influential parameters.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Reduction of solids and nutrient loss from agricultural land by tailwater recovery systems
Series title Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
DOI 10.2489/jswc.73.3.284
Volume 73
Issue 3
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Soil and Water Conservation Society
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 14 p.
First page 284
Last page 297
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