Drainage, Soil conservation, Soil fertility


A field experiment was conducted to evaluate the possibility of using shallow reservoirs containing aquatic plants to reduce excess nutrient levels of agricultural drainage effluent from organic soils. The reservoir systems consisted of three small reservoirs in series, containing separate stands of Eichhornia crassipes, Egeria densa and Typha sp., and a single large reservoir containing equal areas of all three aquatic plants. A control reservoir without plants was included. Drainage water from organic soils was pumped through each reservoir at 39.6 l/sec., 6 hours per day, 6 days per week. the major nutrients monitored in theses flow-through systems included nitrate-N, ammonium-N, total-N, ortho-P (soluble reactive phosphorus) and total-P. Temperature, pH, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide and turbidity were also monitored at the inflow and outflow of each reservoir system. Standing crop measurements and plant tissue analysis for nitrogen and phosphorus were conducted every 21 days. When a single large reservoir was used, effluent nitrate-N, ammonium-N, ortho-P and total-P concentrations decreased by 65%, 57.9%, 70.3% and 51% respectively, while organic-N concentrations increased by 7.2%. In the a series of small reservoirs the concentrations of nutrients decreased by 80%, 73%, 33%, 74%, and 70% for nitrate-N, ammonium-N organic-N, ortho-P and total-P respectively. The dissolved oxygen increased and turbidity was reduced in both reservoir systems. The bicarbonate and carbonate equilibrium in the series of reservoirs and control reservoir shifted to the carbonate sides as carbon dioxide was reduced. The carbon dioxide in the large reservoir remained at the same concentration throughout the study. The standing crop in both reservoir systems was similar with an average of 11.6 mt/ha grown in R-1 and 11.2 mt/ha grown in the series of reservoirs. The nitrogen retained during the study was 1017 kg/ha and 750 kg/ha in the series and the large reservoir respectively. Phosphorus retained in the series was 249 kg/ha while the large reservoir retained 211 kg/ha of phosphorus. The series of reservoirs was more effective in reducing the nutrient levels of the drainage effluent than the large single reservoir. The results obtained from this study indicated that reservoirs in series can be used to reduce excess nutrient levels of agricultural drainage waters. However, further studies are necessary to increase the efficiency of the system and to accelerate plant removal. The physical, chemical, and biological processes involved in removal of the nitrogen and phosphate should be optimized in future applications.


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Graduation Date

Spring 1981


White, Roseann S.


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program





117 p.




Public Domain

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)



Included in

Biology Commons