Sediment delivery from agricultural land to rivers via subsurface drainage

Chapman, A.S., Foster, Ian D.L., Lees, J.A. and Hodgkinson, R.A. (2005) Sediment delivery from agricultural land to rivers via subsurface drainage. Hydrological Processes, 19 (15). pp. 2875-2897. ISSN 0885-6087

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Diffuse sources of sediment and sediment-associated nutrients are of increasing environmental concern because of their impacts on receiving water courses. The aim of the research reported here was to monitor the outflow from four field (land) drains at two farms in the English Midlands in order to estimate the quantity of sediment delivered to the local rivers and the most likely sources and processes involved. A multiparameter sediment unmixing model was employed, using environmental magnetic, geochemical and radionuclide tracers in order to determine the most likely origin of sediments transported through the drains. Results demonstrated that there was a generally linear relationship between drainflow sediment loss and drainflow volume and that the majority (>70%) of the sediment exported from the drains was derived from topsoil. Macropore flow through heavily cracked soils is supported by the data to be the most likely means of sediment delivery to the drains. In one catchment, drains contributed over 50% of the annual sediment budget. Spatial and temporal variations in the sources of sediment reaching one drain outlet were investigated in detail. A link between soil moisture deficit (SMD) and the frequency of high-intensity rainfall events was used to explain the appearance and persistence of a new sediment source in this drain after October 1998. It is concluded that field drains have the potential to be significant conduits of sediment and agrochemicals in a wide variety of environments in the UK. It is also suggested that this potential may increase if projected climate change leads to more intense rainfall events and increases in SMD across a greater area of the UK.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: University of Westminster > Science and Technology > Life Sciences, School of (No longer in use)
Depositing User: Miss Nina Watts
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2009 11:55
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2009 12:38

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