Summary of tailwater recovery system efficiencies as a conservation practice

Author(s): Omer, A.

Water conservation practices are being widely implemented to alleviate sediment and nutrient losses from agricultural land and unsustainable groundwater use for irrigation. Tailwater recovery (TWR) systems are conservation practices being implemented to collect and store runoff to reduce nutrient losses and provide a source of irrigation water. This research is focused on evaluating TWR systems through the following actions: 1) investigate ability to reduce solids and nutrients delivery to downstream systems; 2) determine the potential to irrigate water containing solids and nutrients; and 3) quantify a water budge for TWR systems. Tailwater recovery systems did not significantly reduce concentrations of solids and nutrients; however, loads of solids, P, and N were significantly reduced by 43%, 32% and 44%, respectively. Mean nutrient loads per hectare available to be recycled onto the landscape were 0.20 kg ha-1 P and 0.86 kg ha-1 N. Water budget analyses show these systems save water for irrigation, but were inefficient. Mechanistically, TWR systems retain runoff on the agricultural landscape, thereby reducing the amount of sediment and nutrients entering downstream waterbodies and provide an additional source of water for irrigation; however, more cost-effective practices exist for nutrient reduction and providing water for irrigation.

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