Denitrification potential in the subsurface environment in the Manawatu River catchment, New Zealand: Indications from oxidation-reduction conditions, hydrogeological factors, and implications for nutrient management
A sound understanding of the effects of hydrogeological factors on loss, transport and transformation of farm nutrients is essential for predicting their impacts on ecosystem health of receiving waters. We assessed the potential of groundwater to attenuate nitrate through denitrification, and the distribution of this potential across the Tararua Groundwater Management Zone (GWMZ) in the Manawatu River catchment, New Zealand. We combined a number of methods in an unprecedented manner to confirm findings and obtain supporting evidence for the features that determine the subsurface denitrification characteristics. Our results showed that the denitrification characteristics of groundwater varied considerably in the Tararua GWMZ. The southern part of the Tararua GWMZ contained mainly oxic groundwater with low potential to denitrify, whereas the middle and northern parts of the Tararua GWMZ contained reduced groundwater with high denitrification potential. The hydrogeological features that influence denitrification potential in groundwater were identified as soil texture and drainage class, and the aquifer material or rock type. Low dissolved oxygen levels and nitrate concentrations were found in groundwater where the combinations of soil and rock types had poor drainage characteristics as opposed to higher concentrations in groundwater under well-drained soils and rocks (e.g. gravels). Intensive pastoral farming over well-drained soils and rocks showed high nitrate concentration in groundwater. This spatial variability in denitrification potential of groundwater offers a targeted management of nutrients runoff and leaching from pastoral lands to reduce their impacts on receiving surface waters.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsagriculture intensification; nitrate leaching; groundwater; redox conditions; water quality; New Zealand; Environmental Sciences; Nitrates; Water Pollutants, Chemical; Rivers; Environmental Monitoring; Denitrification
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