Nitrogen balance for an agroforestry system irrigated with saline, high nitrogen effluent

MacDonald, C. A., Menzies, N. W., Dart, P. J. and Bigwood, R. (2004). Nitrogen balance for an agroforestry system irrigated with saline, high nitrogen effluent. In: B. Sing, Supersoil 2004: 3rd Australian New Zealand Soils Conference. 3rd Australian New Zealand Soils Conference (Supersoil 2004), Sydney, Australia, (1-7). 5-9 December 2004.

Author MacDonald, C. A.
Menzies, N. W.
Dart, P. J.
Bigwood, R.
Title of paper Nitrogen balance for an agroforestry system irrigated with saline, high nitrogen effluent
Conference name 3rd Australian New Zealand Soils Conference (Supersoil 2004)
Conference location Sydney, Australia
Conference dates 5-9 December 2004
Proceedings title Supersoil 2004: 3rd Australian New Zealand Soils Conference
Place of Publication Gosford, Australia
Publisher The Regional Institute
Publication Year 2004
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISBN 1 920842 26 8
Editor B. Sing
Start page 1
End page 7
Total pages 7
Collection year 2004
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Land disposal is commonly used for urban and industrial wastewater, largely due to the high costs involved in alternative treatments or disposal systems. However, the viability of such systems depends on many factors, including the composition of the effluent water, soil type, the plant species grown, growth rate, and planting density. The objective of this study is to establish whether land disposal of nitrogen (N) rich effluent using an agroforestry system is sustainable, and determine the effect of irrigation rate and tree planting density on the N cycle and subsequent N removal. We examined systems for the sustainable disposal of a high strength industrial effluent. The challenge was to leach the salt, by using a sufficiently high rate of irrigation, while simultaneously ensuring that N did not leach from the soil profile. We describe the N balance for two plant systems irrigated with effluent, one comprising Eucalyptus tereticornis and Eucalyptus moluccana and a Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) pasture, and the other, Rhodes grass pasture alone. Nitrogen balance was assessed from N inputs in effluent and rainfall, accumulation of N in the plant biomass, changes in soil N storage, N loss in run-off water, denitrification and N loss to the groundwater by deep-drainage. Biomass production was estimated from allometric relationships derived from yearly destructive harvesting of selected trees. The N content of that biomass was then calculated from measured N content of the various plant parts, and their mass. Approximately 300 kg N/ha/yr was assimilated into tree biomass at a planting density of 2500 tree/ha of E. moluccana. In addition to tree assimilation, pasture growth between the tree rows, which was regularly harvested, contributed substantially to N uptake. If the trees were harvested after two years of growth and grass harvested regularly, biomass removal of N by the mixed system would be about 700 kg N/ha/yr. The results of this study show that the current system of effluent disposal is not sustainable as the nitrate leaching from the soil profile far exceeds standards set out by the ANZECC guidelines. Hence additional means of N removal will need to be implemented. Biological N removal is an area that warrants further studies as it is aimed at reducing N levels in the effluent before irrigation. This will complement the current agroforestry system.
Subjects E1
300103 Soil Chemistry
770402 Land and water management
Q-Index Code E1
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Created: Thu, 23 Aug 2007, 19:37:23 EST