Research

Toward Sustainable Landscapes: Phosphorus Management to Protect Wetlands

Greening Australia
University of Western Australia

Wetlands

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Drilling for soil samples in the Peel-Harvey coastal plain, Western Australia.To reduce phosphorous loads in waterways within the Peel-Harvey catchment, the project aims to develop new configurations in landuse with greater integration of perennial plants into farming systems. Key to achieving this landuse change is the new and detailed knowledge this research will gather on the forms of phosphorous in soil and water, and the hydrological mechanisms that transport the phosphorous off farms. 

Researchers will also tap into community knowledge to help with information gathering. The research is engaging landholders and community members on research objectives and milestones, and presenting reports to stakeholder groups throughout the project. While reviewing existing information on the phosphorous movement within the Peel-Harvey catchment, researchers are also gathering "grey literature," that is, information held by people, but not formally published.

Deep soil cores will be taken in two contrasting fields to characterize soil properties. Scientific instruments will be installed at four locations, representing upland, mid-slope and riparian ecosystems. This allows for assessment of the shallow aquifer groundwater system and its role in biogeochemical processes and nutrient transport over a seven-12 month period. Soil collected from field sites will be analyzed to determine the point at which the addition of more phosphorous results in phosphorous leaching. Analysis of soil samples from native wetland and existing pastures will help determine the role these ecosystems play in capturing the phosphorous on a seasonal basis. Finally, researchers will experiment by planting certain species of primarily native plants in various locations on farms to see how they contribute to phosphorous uptake.

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