Water quality assessment for sustainable agriculture in the Wet Tropics: a community-assisted approach

Faithful, John, and Finlayson, Wendy (2005) Water quality assessment for sustainable agriculture in the Wet Tropics: a community-assisted approach. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 51 (1-4). pp. 99-112.

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A number of studies in north Queensland over the past two decades have concluded that large amounts of nutrients and sediments are exported from agricultural watersheds, particularly during wet season rainfall events. With the co-operation of a number of growers, runoff from Queensland Wet Tropics banana and cane farm paddocks in two distinct tropical river catchments was examined to provide an estimate of nutrient and sediment concentrations and export, with comparison to water quality of flow through a small urban lakes system. Median total nitrogen concentrations in cane drainage runoff (3110 μg N/L) were higher than for banana paddock drainage (2580 μg N/L), although the maximum concentration was recorded from a banana paddock (20,900 μg N/L). Nitrogen losses during post-event drainage flow were supplemented by high proportions of NOX (nitrate + nitrite) sourced from groundwater inputs. Banana paddocks had the highest maximum and median total phosphorus and TSS concentrations (5120 and 286 μg P/L, and 7250 and 75 mg/L respectively) compared to the cane farms (1430 and 50 μg P/L, and 1840 and 14 mg/L respectively). The higher phosphorus and TSS concentrations in the banana runoff were attributed to higher paddock slopes and a greater proportion of exposed ground surface during the wet season. Highest nutrient and TSS concentrations corresponded with samples collected near the peak discharge periods; however, the rising stage of the drainage flows, where the highest nutrient and TSS concentrations are often reported, were difficult to target because of the manual sampling strategy used. This study shows that high concentrations of nutrients and TSS occur in the runoff from cane and banana paddocks. Median total nitrogen, total phosphorus and TSS concentrations in flow through the urban lakes were 369 μg N/L, 16 μg P/L and 11 mg/L, respectively. Flux estimates of 9.2 kg N, 0.8 kg P and 126 kg TSS/ha were determined for drainage runoff from a banana paddock during a single intensive storm event.

Item ID: 14058
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: Wet Tropics; nutrients; sediment; agricultural runoff; urban stormwater; flux
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2010 04:39
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040699 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience not elsewhere classified @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040310 Sedimentology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 51%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960505 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 49%
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