Field evaluation of passive capillary samplers in monitoring the leaching of agrochemicals Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/gf06g5557

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  • Soil solution samplers have certain inadequacies that limit their range of possible applications. Passive Capillary Samplers (PCAPS), which apply suction to the soil pore-water via a fiber glass wick, have shown promising results in preliminary experiments in regard to collection efficiency of water and of bromide tracers. The objectives of this study were to evaluate PCAPS under non-steady state field conditions with respect to (1) effect of installation procedure and operational characteristics, (2) ability to estimate the soil-water flux, and (3) ability to estimate the mean concentration of agrochemicals. At the same time, samplers were used to (4) evaluate the effect of a cereal rye (Secale cereale (L.)) cover crop on NO₃⁻ leaching. Thirty-two PCAPS and 32 suction cup samplers were installed below the root zone at a depth of 120 cm in a Willamette Variant loam wet soil (fine loamy mixed mesic Pachic Ultic Argixeroll). Samplers were installed in an ongoing cover crop/crop rotation study. Regarding overall performance, flux measurements were within 20 % of the native values as determined by a water balance. The air release from the sample bottles was a point of concern and might have slowed down the sampling rate. The installation procedure introduced bias into volume and concentration measurements of the part of the PCAPS closest to the refilled trench. The leachate concentration as calculated using the arithmetic mean of suction cup sampler measurements holds a significant bias, deviating by up to 97 % for bromide concentrations. Phosphate was not detected by the suction cup samplers indicating that ceramic cups should not be used for phosphate sampling. Matrix and preferential flow could clearly be distinguished using the PCAPS, showing that PCAPS are a valuable tool to assess the hydrology and solute transport mechanisms of a field site. The cover crop reduced NO₃⁻-N leaching significantly at the recommended N rate as evaluated by PCAPS. The cover crop reduced the seasonal mean NO₃⁻-N concentration at the recommended N rate from 13.5 mg LI to 8.1 mg L⁻¹, which is under the E.P.A. drinking water quality standard of 10 mg L⁻¹. The total NO₃⁻-N mass lost under the fallow treatment at the recommended N rate was 48 kg N ha⁻' which compares to 32 kg N ha⁻' under the cover crop treatment. Given the increasing problems with nitrate contamination of ground water, programs to support the cultivation of catch crops in conjunction with nitrogen soil testing should be considered as a relatively easy, effective, and biologically sound means to reduce nitrate concentrations in the recharge to the ground water in agricultural settings.
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