Assessment of tailwater recovery system and on-farm storage reservoir water and nutrient harvesting

Author(s): Omer, A.

The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley is economically important due to its highly productive agricultural land. However, producers in this region face two predominant environmental issues that are inherently linked to the intensity of the agricultural industry in this region. First, intensive agriculture practices have resulted in increased surface transport of nutrient-laden sediments, contributing to eutrophication in receiving waters and to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone. Second, current water withdrawals from the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer for irrigation are not sustainable. These issues threatening environmental resources necessitate use of best management practices and groundwater conservation. This research investigates systems of best management practices as water resource conservation methods. Such practices include surface water capture and irrigation reuse systems. Referred to as tailwater recovery systems (TWR), this practice consists of a tailwater recovery ditch which may be paired with on-farm storage reservoirs (OFS). Seven case studies of different TWR were monitored for nutrients during the 2014 and 2015 growing season at: inflow, edge of field, TWR, OFS, and overflow locations. Investigations highlight functionality for nutrient recycling, and descriptions of nutrient loss mitigation. Preliminary results for seven TWR in 2014 and 2015 show a mean of 94.05 mega liters of water being recycled applying a mean of 0.86 kg/ha total nitrogen and 0.2 kg/ha total phosphorus back onto the tillable landscape. These systems are proving successful in holding water on the landscape, recycling that water, and therefore nutrients; thereby preventing those nutrients from being lost to downstream waters. This suggests that TWR, or systems with similar water holding capacity, have potential for water resource conservation in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley.

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