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Characterising phosphorus loss in surface and subsurface hydrological pathways

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>5/05/2000
<mark>Journal</mark>Science of the Total Environment
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)523-538
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The magnitude and composition of the phosphorus (P) load transported in surface and subsurface hydrological pathways from a grassland catchment depends on the discharge capacity of the flow route and the frequency with which the pathway operates. Surface runoff is an important pathway for P loss, but this pathway is spatially limited and temporarily confined to high magnitude, high intensity rainfall events. High P concentrations (mean: 1.1 mg TP l−1) were recorded, with most P transported in the dissolved fraction. Preferential flow pathways, particularly soil macropores and field drains, are important contributors to the overall P load; most P is transported in the particulate fraction and associated with organic or colloidal P forms. High P concentrations (mean: 1.2 mg TP l−1) were recorded in macropore flow in the upper 0–15 cm of a grassland soil, and generally declined with increasing soil depth. On average, P concentrations in drainflow were over six times greater in stormflow compared to baseflow. Stormflow P losses in drainflow were predominantly in the particulate fraction; significant correlation (P<0.01) was recorded with suspended sediment concentrations in drainflow. Phosphorus concentrations in groundwater were low (<0.2 mg TP l−1 at 150 cm), although this pathway may contribute to stream flow for the majority of the year.

Bibliographic note

5 May 2000

Characterising phosphorus loss in surface and subsurface hydrological pathways

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