Relationships between land use and nutrient concentrations in streams draining a ‘wet-tropics’ catchment in northern Australia

Mitchell, A., Reghenzani, J., Faithful, J., Furnas, M., and Brodie, J. (2009) Relationships between land use and nutrient concentrations in streams draining a ‘wet-tropics’ catchment in northern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 60 (11). pp. 1097-1108.

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Abstract

Differences in stream nutrient concentrations typically reflect upstream differences in land use. In particular, nitrate concentrations are greatly increased by losses from nitrogen (N) fertiliser applied to areas of intensive cropping. In the present study, a relationship between the area of such land use and the nitrate concentrations in the receiving streams was predicted. This relationship was tested using several data sets from the Tully basin, in the wet-tropics bioregion of north Queensland, Australia. The proportions of fertiliser-additive land use (FALU), mostly sugarcane and bananas, were correlated with the concentrations of nutrients in streams that drain these land uses. The data compared included two long term sampling studies in the Tully River catchment and more recent, broader catchment sampling and plot-scale studies in this region. A strong relationship was shown for nitrate, but weaker relationships were observed for other N-nutrient and P-nutrient forms. Comparisons were made with contemporary and historical land-use changes in the Tully basin. The strong relationship of FALU with nitrate provides evidence that the nitrate exports from this catchment are largely derived from fertiliser use. This relationship can be used to derive nitrate run-off coefficients for fertilised land use in catchment models or to monitor changes following management to reduce fertiliser usage.

Item ID: 10804
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: fertiliser-additive land use; key pollutants; nitrate; north Queensland; Tully basin; Tully River
ISSN: 1448-6059
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2010 03:29
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960502 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Environments @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 30%
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