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Managing Surface Water Inputs to Reduce Phosphorus Losses from Cranberry Farms

Abstract
Abstract: In Massachusetts, cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) production accounts for one-fourth of US cranberry supply, but water quality concerns, water use, and wetland protection laws threaten the sustainability and future viability of the state’s cranberry industry. Pond water used for harvest and winter flooding accounts for up to two-thirds of phosphorus (P) losses in drainage waters. Consequently, use of P sorbing salts to treat pond water holds promise in the mitigation of P losses from cranberry farms. Laboratory evaluation of aluminum (Al)-, iron (Fe)-, and calcium (Ca)-based salts was conducted to determine the application rate required for reducing P in shallow (0.4 m) and deep (3.2 m) water ponds used for cranberry production. Limited P removal (<22%) with calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate was consistent with their relatively low solubility in water. Calcium hydroxide reduced total P up to 66%, but increases in pond water pH (>8) could be detrimental to cranberry production. Ferric sulfate and aluminum sulfate applications of 15 mg L−1 (ppm) resulted in near-complete removal of total P, which decreased from 49 ± 3 to <10 mg P L−1 (ppb). However, ferric sulfate application lowered pH below the recommend range for cranberry soils. Field testing of aluminum sulfate demonstrated that at a dose of 15 mg L−1 (~1.4 Al mg L−1), total P in pond water was reduced by 78 to 93%. Laboratory and field experiments support the recommendation of aluminum sulfate as a cost-effective remedial strategy for reducing elevated P in surface water used for cranberry production.
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2017-08-30
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