Impacts of preferential flow and agroecosystem management on subsurface particulate phosphorus loadings in tile-drained landscapes

Saeid Nazari, William I. Ford, Kevin W. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Recent research on tile-drainage has placed emphasis on dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) delivery and transport pathways but less emphasis on particulate P (PP), resulting in its exclusion from agricultural water management models. In this study, we quantified the fluxes, mechanisms, and factors driving PP delivery into tiles through statistical analysis of a long-term hydrologic and water quality dataset. The dataset includes 5 yr of surface and tile discharge, total P (TP), DRP, total nitrogen (TN), and dissolved inorganic N concentrations from two edge-of-field study sites with contrasting soil and management practices. Hydrograph recession techniques were coupled with multiple linear regression for understanding hydrologic flow pathways, and empirical mode decomposition (EMD) time-series analysis was used to determine the significance of PP seasonality processes and the effect of management practices. The analysis of hydrologic flow pathways demonstrated that quickflow contributed 66 and 36% of subsurface discharge in the clay and loam sites, respectively. Phosphorus loading analysis showed that macropore flow plays a significant role in PP delivery to subsurface P loading and that PP significantly contributed to TP and DRP delivery; however, greater PP loadings were observed at the clay site despite greater subsurface discharge and soil test P levels at the loam site. Furthermore, PP delivery was significantly affected by environmental conditions and management practices. We highlight the efficacy of hydrograph recession analysis for identifying macropore and diffuse drainage, of P/N ratios to characterize sediment delivery mechanisms in tiles, and of EMD to detect management impacts on TP and DRP at the field scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1383
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Environmental Quality © 2020 American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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