R. Carlow


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Performance of simple low-cost edge-of-field filters for mitigating P losses in surface runoff from agricultural fields
R. Carlow, Janina M. Plach, William T. Pluer, W.V. Lam, Mazda Kompani-Zare, R. Brunke, Kevin McKague, Helen P. Jarvie, Merrin L. Macrae
Agricultural Water Management, Volume 284

Nutrient losses from agricultural fields are the largest sources of phosphorus (P) entering the Great Lakes in North America. Stacked conservation practices (CPs) may reduce P losses from individual fields. Simple low-cost, low disturbance, commercially available filters containing wood chips and phosphorus sorbing materials (PSM) were installed on two fields already using conservation practices in midwestern Ontario (ILD and LON) to quantify their ability to remove soluble reactive P (SRP), particulate P (PP), total P (TP) and total suspended sediments (TSS) from surface runoff. Laboratory tests on unused (new) and used (field) filter materials were also conducted to estimate P sorption and remobilization potentials. During the two-year study period, the filter retained 0.018 kg ha-1 of SRP, 0.38 kg ha-1 of PP, 0.4 kg ha-1 of TP and 8.75 kg ha-1 of TSS from surface runoff at the ILD site. In contrast, although the filter at LON removed 37 kg ha-1 of TSS and 0.07 kg ha-1 of PP, it released 0.22 kg ha-1 of SRP and 0.15 kg ha-1 TP. A reduction in filter efficacy was observed over time, particularly at the site with greater cumulative surface runoff and larger runoff events (LON). The majority of the SRP retained by the filter was held in a loosely bound form, thus, susceptible to P remobilization. The results of this study demonstrate that low-cost, simple PSMs have some potential to retain P from surface runoff, but their efficacy may decline over time and their P retention capability may differ with site hydrology (e.g., runoff volumes and velocity) and P supply.

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Trade‐offs in nutrient and sediment losses in tile drainage from no‐till versus conventional conservation‐till cropping systems
Merrin L. Macrae, Janina M. Plach, R. Carlow, Christopher R. Little, Helen P. Jarvie, Kevin McKague, William T. Pluer, Pamela Joosse
Journal of Environmental Quality, Volume 52, Issue 5

Abstract Nutrient and soil loss from agricultural areas impairs surface water quality globally. In the Great Lakes region, increases in the frequency and magnitude of harmful and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater lakes have been linked to elevated phosphorus (P) losses from agricultural fields, some of which are transported via tile drainage. This study examined whether concentrations and loads of P fractions, total suspended sediments (TSS), nitrate (NO 3 − ), and ammonium (NH 4 + ) in tile drainage in a clay soil differed between a continuous no‐till system combining cover crops and surface broadcast fertilizer (no‐till cover crop [NTCC]), and a more conventional tillage system with shallow tillage, fertilizer incorporation and limited use of cover crops (conventional conservation‐till, CT). Both sites had modest soil fertility levels. Year‐round, high‐frequency observations of tile drainage flow and chemistry are described over 4 full water years and related to management practices on the associated fields. There were similar water yields in tile drainage between the two systems; however, losses of TSS, particulate P (PP), and NO 3 − were consistently greater from the CT site, which received larger quantities of fertilizer. In contrast, dissolved reactive P (DRP) losses were considerably greater from the NTCC site, offsetting the lower PP losses, such that there was little difference in TP losses between sites. Approximately 60% of the DRP losses from the NTCC site over the 4 years were associated with incidental losses following surface application of fertilizer in fall. This study provides insight into trade‐offs in controlling losses of different nutrient fractions using different management systems.


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Agricultural Edge‐of‐Field Phosphorus Losses in Ontario, Canada: Importance of the Nongrowing Season in Cold Regions
Janina M. Plach, William T. Pluer, Merrin L. Macrae, Mazda Kompani-Zare, Kevin McKague, R. Carlow, R. Brunke
Journal of Environmental Quality, Volume 48, Issue 4

Agricultural P losses are a global economic and water quality concern. Much of the current understanding of P dynamics in agricultural systems has been obtained from rainfall-driven runoff, and less is known about cold-season processes. An improved understanding of the magnitude, form, and transport flow paths of P losses from agricultural croplands year round, and the climatic drivers of these processes, is needed to prioritize and evaluate appropriate best management practices (BMPs) to protect soil-water quality in cold regions. This study examines multiyear, year-round, high-frequency edge-of-field P losses (soluble reactive P and total P [TP]) in overland flow and tile drainage from three croplands in southern Ontario, Canada. Annual and seasonal budgets for water, P, and estimates of field P budgets (including fertilizer inputs, crop uptake, and runoff) were calculated for each site. Annual edge-of-field TP loads ranged from 0.18 to 1.93 kg ha yr (mean = 0.59 kg ha yr) across the region, including years with fertilizer application. Tile drainage dominated runoff across sites, whereas the contribution of tiles and overland flow to P loss differed regionally, likely related to site-specific topography, soil type, and microclimate. The nongrowing season was the dominant period for runoff and P loss across sites, where TP loss during this period was often associated with overland flow during snowmelt. These results indicate that emphasis should be placed on BMPs that are effective during both the growing and nongrowing season in cold regions, but that the suitability of various BMPs may vary for different sites.