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The potential use of wetlands to reduce phosphorus export from agricultural catchments

Chambers, J.M., Wrigley, T.J. and McComb, A.J. (1993) The potential use of wetlands to reduce phosphorus export from agricultural catchments. Fertilizer Research, 36 (2). pp. 157-164.

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Natural and artificial wetlands have the potential to reduce phosphorus (P) loads from dispersed agricultural runoff and from point sources in the Peel-Harvey catchment, Western Australia. Small experimental systems containing wetland plants and substrate have shown significant removal of P from inflowing water, the proportion of P removed being dependent on P concentration and flow rate of water through the system. The use of artificial wetlands to treat diffuse agricultural runoff is limited by the highly seasonal runoff typical of this Mediterranean climate, while use at point sources has so far been unsuccessful because compounds from the effluent clog the wetland 'filters'. Treatment at point sources may well be feasible after further research. Natural wetlands in the catchment absorb P received in runoff from farmland and, in the absence of any outflow channels to the drainage system, confine this P within the boundaries of the wetland. Disturbance to wetlands may reduce their efficiency in absorbing nutrients and may release P stored in the vegetation and sediment to the water. The conservation of natural wetlands is recommended to maximise nutrient retention in the catchment.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Copyright: © 1993 Kluwer Academic Publishers
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