Assessment of natural fluorescence as a tracer of diffuse agricultural pollution from slurry apreading on intensely-farmed grasslands

Naden, Pamela S.; Old, Gareth H. ORCID:; Eliot-Laize, Caroline; Granger, Steve J.; Hawkins, Jane M.B.; Bol, Roland; Haygarth, Phil. 2010 Assessment of natural fluorescence as a tracer of diffuse agricultural pollution from slurry apreading on intensely-farmed grasslands. Water Research, 44 (6). 1701-1712.

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The value of natural fluorescence in tracing diffuse pollution, in liquid phase, following slurry application to land was assessed by field experiment using twelve one hectare lysimeters on a heavy clay soil in Devon, UK, during autumn 2007. A strong linear relationship was found between natural fluorescence intensity and slurry concentration. The ratio of indices of tryptophan-like and fulvic/humic-like fluorescence (TI:FI) varied between 2 and 5 for a range of slurries sampled from Devon farms and allowed slurry to be distinguished from uncontaminated drainage waters (TI:FI < 1). Incidental losses of slurry, indicated by significantly enhanced TI:FI ratios, high TI and high ammonium levels, occurred via the drain flow pathway of the drained lysimeters during the first small event following slurry-spreading. The maximum estimated loss from a single lysimeter was 2-8 kg or 0.004-0.016% of the applied slurry. In the second larger storm event, some five weeks later, significantly enhanced TI:FI ratios in the drain flows were not associated with high TI but with high nitrate levels and, compared to the earlier storm, an increase in the humification index. This implies the loss of slurry decomposition products during this event but further work is needed to validate this. There was no significant enhancement of TI:FI in the surface/throughflow pathways of the drained or undrained lysimeters in either of the events. The observed change over a period of weeks in the strength and nature of the fluorescence signal from spread slurry restricts quantification of slurry losses to those immediately after slurry spreading. Nonetheless, this study demonstrates the utility of fluorescence as an indicator of slurry in drainage waters and the importance of field drains in diffuse agricultural pollution.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes > WA - 2.1 - Identify and quantify sources, fluxes and pathways of water, chemicals ...
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
ISSN: 0043-1354
Additional Keywords: fluorescence, animal slurry, diffuse agricultural pollution, field drainage
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 25 Feb 2010 14:21 +0 (UTC)

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