The Role of Legacy Effects and Reactive Amendments on Phosphorus Retention Within Riparian Zones

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 9:00 AM
Ben Surridge, Reza Habibiandehkordi and John Quinton, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Undisturbed riparian zones, including river floodplains and field buffer strips, can significantly reduce phosphorus (P) export associated with agricultural production. However, riparian zones are frequently disturbed, including through conversion to agricultural land. Restoring disturbed riparian zones is promoted widely within agri-environment schemes. However, restoration presents significant challenges, two of which are considered in this paper: understanding the impacts of restoration on legacy P within riparian zone soils; and maximising the efficacy of riparian zones for removal of all P fractions, including the more immediately bioavailable soluble P fractions. Firstly, we examine changes in porewater soluble P concentration following re-wetting of a river floodplain in Norfolk, UK, using laboratory mesocosms and in-situ field monitoring. Substantial release of P from sediment to porewater was observed following re-wetting (porewater soluble P concentration exceeded 6.5 mg P L-1), probably associated with reductive-dissolution of iron-bound P within floodplain sediments. Export of soluble P from porewater into adjacent receiving waters was observed following both natural hydrological events and management of the hydrological regime within the floodplain. Secondly, we examine how retention of soluble P with grass buffer strips can be enhanced through application of reactive industrial by-products, focussing on ochre and aluminium-based water treatment residuals. Application of these by-products to buffer strips increased removal of soluble P from surface runoff by over 50% compared to non-amended buffer strips. The long-term effectiveness of reactive amendments is also considered, using repeated runoff events under field conditions. Taken together, the research offers new insights into riparian zone P biogeochemistry within agricultural landscapes.