Nutrient and Water Cycling in Cranberry Farms
New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory
2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Quantify spatiotemporal dynamics of nutrient and water cycling associated with cranberry production in order to develop improved production practices that reduce water usage and nutrient losses. Leverage existing on-site cranberry bogs for research to better understand hydrological processes of cranberry bogs.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Hydrological monitoring stations will be established to quantify the spatial and temporal patterns of water and nutrient cycling in several cranberry bogs. Stations will be instrumented to measure volumetric streamflow and nutrient concentrations in stream water. Also, groundwater wells and soil lysimeters will be installed to characterize the nutrient chemistry of groundwater and soil water in several grower-cooperator bogs. Data will be used to model nutrient and water cycling and test improved production practices.
A water quality monitoring program was developed for quantifying nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loss from 5 cranberry farms. A technician was hired to oversee every aspect of the monitoring program. At each farm, the technician has installed flow meters, automated water samplers, rain gauges, and shallow groundwater wells to estimate annual loss of P and N from the cranberry farms to inland ponds, coastal receiving waters, and groundwater. Preliminary results indicate that N loss from these 5 cranberry farms is lower than values commonly reported, and nutrient estuarine models accounting for various sources of N may overestimate the contribution from cranberry farms. With respect to P, variations in P loss vary over several orders of magnitude; understanding the physical and chemical factors controlling this variation will feature prominently in future research efforts.