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Tile drainage (TD) has been identified as a potential non-point source of phosphorus (P) pollution and subsequent water quality issues. Three fields with TD in Vermont USA were monitored to characterize hydrology and P export. Fields were in corn silage and used minimal tillage and cover cropping practices. Preferential flow path (PFP) activity was explored by separating TD flow into flow pathway and source connectivity components using two hydrograph separation techniques, electrical conductivity end member unmixing, and hydrograph recession analysis. TD was the dominant P export pathway because of higher total discharge. Drought conditions during this study limited surface runoff, and possibly resulted in maximum PFP activity in the active clay soils. The non-growing season dominated annual P loading for two of the three study years. Peak P concentrations in TD occurred during events following manure injection in the fall, as well as in the spring post cover crop termination and post-planting. Intra-event analysis of rainfall pulses showed that TD flow and P concentrations were higher because of higher intensity pulses. This study highlights the impacts of current manure management, as well as the potential for climate change to increase P transport to TD.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.