Water, Air & Soil Pollution

Agricultural Sediment Reduction by Giant Cane and Forest Riparian Buffers

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Courtesy of Water, Air & Soil Pollution

The sediment filtering capabilities of giant cane (Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Chapm.) and forest riparian buffers were compared in a southern Illinois, USA non tile drained agricultural watershed. Giant cane, a bamboo species, serves as important wildlife habitat throughout its native range in the southeastern and lower midwestern United States. Overland flow samples were collected at the field edge and at 3.3 m, 6.6 m, and 10.0 m within the riparian buffers during 19 precipitation events over a 1-year period. On an annual basis, significant sediment reductions occurred by 3.3 m and 6.6 m in the cane and forest buffers, respectively. The giant cane buffer reduced incoming sediment mass by 94% within the first 3.3 m, while the forest buffer reduced sediment by 86% over 6.6 m. Within 10.0 m of the field edge, the cane and forest buffers reduced sediment mass by 100% and 76%, respectively. On a seasonal basis, the cane buffer outperformed the forest buffer. During each of the four seasons, the cane buffer reduced sediment masses within 3.3 m of the field edge, while the forest buffer showed initial reductions occurring at 6.6 m during the summer, fall, and winter. No detectable reductions occurred during the spring in the forested buffer. Reductions in sediment concentrations were less evident compared to mass basis, indicating that infiltration may be a more important sediment reduction mechanism than particle settling. Both the forest and giant cane buffers had relatively high measured soil infiltration rates. Study results indicate that giant cane is an appropriate species to include in riparian buffer restoration designs for sediment control.

Keywords: best management practice - filter strip - nonpoint source pollution - surface runoff - water quality

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