Seasonal losses of dissolved organic carbon and total dissolved solids from rice production systems in northern California

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Received for publication February 18, 2009. Water quality concerns have arisen related to rice (Oryza sativa L.) field drain water, which has the potential to contribute large amounts of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and total dissolved solids (TDS) to the Sacramento River. Field-scale losses of DOC or TDS have yet to be quantified. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the seasonal concentrations of DOC and TDS in rice field drain water and irrigation canals, quantify seasonal fluxes and flow-weighted (FW) concentrations of DOC and TDS, and determine the main drivers of DOC and TDS fluxes. Two rice fields with different straw management practices (incorporation vs. burning) were monitored at each of four locations in the Sacramento Valley. Fluxes of DOC ranged from 3.7 to 34.6 kg ha–1 during the growing season (GS) and from 0 to 202 kg ha–1 during the winter season (WS). Straw management had a significant interaction effect with season, as the greatest DOC concentrations were observed during winter flooding of straw incorporated fields. Fluxes and concentrations of TDS were not significantly affected by either straw management or season. Total seasonal water flux accounted for 90 and 88% of the variability in DOC flux during the GS and WS, respectively. Peak DOC concentrations occurred at the onset of drainflow; therefore, changes in irrigation management may reduce peak DOC concentrations and thereby DOC losses. However, the timing of peak DOC concentrations from rice fields suggest that rice field drainage water is not the cause of peak DOC concentrations in the Sacramento River.

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