Phosphorus dynamics in the ditch system of a restored peat wetland
Niedermeier, A. and Robinson, J. S. (2009) Phosphorus dynamics in the ditch system of a restored peat wetland. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 131 (3-4). pp. 161-169. ISSN 0167-8809
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2009.01.011
The restoration of wetlands as bird habitats often involves the maintenance of a fluctuating water regime by careful, localised ditch water management using pumps and sluices. However, there is evidence in the literature to Suggest that alternate flood/drainage cycles can accelerate nutrient cycling and transport within the soil and, therefore, pose a threat to water quality through the process of eutrophication. This study focused on the dynamics and losses of soil P in a recently re-wetted, eutrophic fen peat developed on alluvium ill South west England. During the 2-year Study (2001 and 2002), soil water tensiometry revealed that the field water table (fluctuating annually between +20 and 60 cm relative to ground level) was extensively influenced across most of the 8.4 ha field site by the management of the adjacent ditch water levels. This conservation-led, prescribed water balance was facilitated by the high hydraulic conductivity (1.1 x 10(-s) ms(-1)) of the lower (70-140 cm), degraded layer of peat. However, only during a 7-day period of water table drawdown by intermittent pump drainage, approximately 45 g ha(-1) of dissolved reactive P (DRP) entered the pumped ditch from the field via this degraded layer. Summer rainfall events >35 mm d(-1) also coincided with significant peaks ill ditch water P concentration (up to 200 mu g L-1 DRP). Even larger peaks (Up to 700 mu g L-1 DRP) Occurred With the annual onset of autumn reflooding. These episodic P loss events pose a serious potential threat to biological water quality. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.