Evaluation of buffers to improve the quality of runoff from irrigated pastures

K. W. Tate, G. A. Nader, D. J. Lewis, E. R. Atwill, J. M. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Non grazed, vegetated buffer strips are often recommended as best management practices to protect waterbodies from sediments and nutrients in runoff from grazed pastures. The objectives of this study were to characterize levels of nitrate/nitrogen (NO3-N), total phosphorus (Total P), and total suspended solids (TSS) in runoff and evaluate the potential water quality improvements from 10 m buffer strips on irrigated Sierra Nevada foothill pastures. We found that 15% and 69% of irrigation water applied to sprinkler and flood irrigated pastures became runoff, respectively. There were distinct temporal patterns of constituent concentration in runoff during irrigation events having ramifications for effective water quality monitoring and study design. The 10 m buffer did not significantly reduce concentrations and loads of NO3-N in runoff from sprinkler and flood irrigated pastures. The buffer also failed to reduce Total P concentration under either irrigation schemes, or Total P and TSS load under sprinkler irrigation. The buffer did reduce TSS concentration under both irrigation schemes, TSS load under flood irrigation, and Total P load under flood irrigation. These results reflect the effectiveness of buffers during the first year following buffer establishment. Improved irrigation efficiency to reduce runoff generation h perhaps the most readily acceptable and practical first step for reducing the potential for negative water quality impacts from these systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-477
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Soil and Water Conservation
Volume55
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

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Keywords

  • Best management practice
  • Grazing
  • Nitrate
  • Phosphorus
  • Sediment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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