Temporal and Spatial Variability in Non-Point Source Phosphorus in Relation to Agricultural Production and Terrestrial Indicators: The Beaver Brook Case Study, Pike River Basin, Québec

  • Aubert R. Michaud
  • Richard Lauzier
  • Marc R. Laverdière
Conference paper


The phosphorus (P) transfer system within the Beaver Brook watershed, a small agricultural watershed (11 km2) tributary to the Pike River, was described through outlet monitoring and spatially discrete sampling of upstream subwatersheds. Spatial variability of P exports was related to the type of agricultural production system and to the attributes of the landscape. Over the three years of study, mean annual exports of dissolved reactive soluble (DRP), bioavailable (BioP) and total phosphorus (TP) from the watershed were 0.57, 0.93 and 1.54 kg-P ha−1, respectively. These export loads were temporally episodic in nature: 75% of total P exports occurred within 6% of the monitoring period. These episodes occurred during peak streamflow events and under late-winter/early-spring conditions when overland runoff was generated through snowmelt or precipitation on thawing or saturated soils. Under base flow conditions, the flux-stream discharge relationship indicated that TP point sources contributed about 5% of annual exports. During elevated streamflow conditions, high bioavailability and particulate ratio of P exports indicated in-stream P storage and transformation mechanisms, as well as a significant contribution of subsurface P transport to the main stream channel. The majority of spatial P concentration patterns could be explained on the basis of the runoff curve number, and the localisation of the subwatershed within the landscape. Under comparable levels of hydrological activity, significant differences in subwatershed water quality were explained by typical agronomic (source) indicators, namely P budget. The implications for farm and land management are that for a tangible reduction in P exports to occur, the importance of considering both runoff and nutrient management must be stressed.


Total Phosphorus Total Phosphorus Concentration Revise Universal Soil Loss Equation Saturation Ratio Subsurface Drainage 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aubert R. Michaud
    • 1
  • Richard Lauzier
  • Marc R. Laverdière
  1. 1.Institut de recherche et développement en agroenvironnementCanada

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