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Hillslope scale surface runoff, sediment and nutrient losses associated with tramline wheelings

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number6
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)699-706
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Research on arable sandy loam and silty clay loam soils on 4 slopes in England has shown that tramlines (i.e. the unseeded wheeling areas used to facilitate spraying operations in cereal crops) can represent the most important pathway for phosphorus and sediment loss from moderately sloping fields. Detailed monitoring over the October-March period in winters 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 included event-based sampling of surface runoff, suspended and particulate sediment, and dissolved and particulate phosphorus from hillslope segments (each similar to 300-800 m(2)) established in a randomized block design with four replicates of each treatment at each of two sites on lighter and heavier soils. Experimental treatments assessed losses from the cropped area without tramlines, and from the uncropped tramline area, and were compared to losses from tramlines which had been disrupted once in the autumn with a shallow tine. On the lighter soil, the effects of removal or shallow incorporation of straw residues was also determined.

Research on both sandy and silty clay loam soils across two winters showed that tramline wheelings represented the dominant pathway for surface runoff and transport of sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen from cereal crops on moderate slopes. Results indicated 5.5-15.8% of rainfall lost as runoff, and losses of 0.8-2.9 kg TP ha(-1) and 0.3-4.8 t ha(-1) sediment in tramline treatments, compared to only 0.2-1.7% rainfall lost as runoff, and losses of 0.0-0.2 kg TP ha(-1) and 0.003-0.3 t ha(-1) sediment from treatments without tramlines or those where tramlines had been disrupted. The novel shallow disruption of tramline wheelings using a tine once following the autumn spray operation consistently and dramatically reduced (p < 0.001) surface runoff and loads of sediment, total nitrogen and total phosphorus to levels similar to those measured in cropped areas between tramlines. Results suggest that options for managing tramline wheelings warrant further refinement and evaluation with a view to incorporating them into spatially-targeted farm-level management planning using national or catchment-based agri-environment policy instruments aimed at reducing diffuse pollution from land to surface water systems. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.