The lower Burdekin is one of Australia's premier irrigation districts with more than 80,000 ha ofsugarcane and other crops. Because it is located adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon, there is stronginterest in understanding the fate of nitrogen applied as fertiliser. Natural denitrification is increasinglyrecognised for its ability to reduce nitrate concentrations in groundwater and we therefore analysed watersamples for a range of constituents (nitrate, ferrous iron, dissolved oxygen, redox potential, pH) from 57monitoring bores to investigate the denitrification potential of the lower Burdekin aquifers. Nitrateconcentrations ranged from <0.1 to 14.4 mg/L NO3-N (three times the ANZECC environmental standardof 5 mg/L). Ferrous concentration varied from 1 to 360 mg/L, dissolved oxygen was < 2 mg/L, redoxpotential varied from -120 to +235 mV, and pH ranged from 5.9 to 7.6. Elevated nitrate levels wereobserved in 16% of the bores located mostly in the Home Hill area. These areas also had low ferrouslevels. High ferrous levels were found mostly in the Ayr area and at shallow depths. The data in generalshowed an inverse relationship between nitrate and iron, and between nitrate and ammonium.Furthermore, undetectable amounts of nitrate were measured in the nested bores located along the coast.These geochemical conditions favour the presence of ferrous iron and a reduced environment conduciveto denitrification. These results suggest that denitrification is one of the mechanisms involved in reducingthe amount of nitrate in the lower Burdekin aquifers and hence reducing the potential for nitrate to movefrom the groundwater into the near-shore marine environment.
|Title of host publication||SuperSoil 2004 Conference 3rd Australian New Zealand Soils Conference|
|Place of Publication||Sydney|
|Publisher||The Regional Institute Ltd.|
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 2004|
|Event||SuperSoil 2004 Conference 3rd Australian New Zealand Soils Conference - Sydney, Australia|
Duration: 05 Dec 2004 → 09 Dec 2004
|Conference||SuperSoil 2004 Conference 3rd Australian New Zealand Soils Conference|
|Period||05/12/04 → 09/12/04|
Thayalakumaran, T., Charlesworth, P. B., Bristow, K., van Bemmelen, R. J., & Jaffres, J. (2004). Nitrate and ferrous iron concentrations in the lower Burdekin aquifers: assessing denitrification potential. In B. Singh (Ed.), SuperSoil 2004 Conference 3rd Australian New Zealand Soils Conference (pp. 1-9). The Regional Institute Ltd..