Elliott, J. 2013. Evaluating the potential contribution of vegetation as a nutrient source in snowmelt runoff. Can. J. Soil Sci. 93: 435-443. On the Canadian prairies, most nutrient transport to surface waters takes place during snowmelt. The potential for a range of 11 residue types to release nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and carbon (C) was assessed by snowmelt simulation. Interactions between soils and residues were measured for two contrasting residues. Samples (taken in late fall) were frozen prior to snowmelt simulations that consisted of three diurnal temperature cycles from -5°C to 9°C followed by a final melt at 5°C. Releases of total and total dissolved P (TP and TDP), total dissolved N (TDN), and dissolved organic C (DOC) during simulated snowmelt were greater from actively growing residues than from crop stubble and were significantly related to plant moisture and nutrient contents. Nutrient release from wheat stubble (WS) was statistically similar to that from the underlying surface soil but releases of P and ammonia (NH3) from winter wheat (WW) were at least four times greater than for the corresponding soil. When combined samples of residue and soil were tested, releases of most nutrients were less than when the residue and soil were tested separately. Potential release of nutrients from vegetation is a factor for consideration in the design of practices to reduce nutrient transport.
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