Phosphate Release Upon Long- and Short -Term Flooding of Fen Meadows Depends on Land Use History and Soil pH

Boudewijn Beltman, P.J.M. van der Ven, Jos Verhoeven, J Sarneel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Flooding of acidified and desiccated fen meadows is a management approach for mitigating loss of plant species as well as a short-term measure to prevent flooding in urban areas. Studies have shown that flooding events can cause extreme P release from soils. We questioned whether the occurrence of this ‘internal eutrophication’ from flooding depended on fertilization history and soil pH. A greenhouse experiment with soil cores from Ireland (turloughs) and from the Netherlands, exposed to flooding for 216 days (long-term) showed a substantial P release for sites with a history of fertilizer use only. Short-term flooding (20–25 days) caused little P release in all soils. There was no correlation between P release and initial soil pH (range 4.1–7.1). All flooded soils showed a significant decline in sulfate and increased iron in the pore water upon flooding. Field trials applying short term flooding to sites differing in soil pH, average soil moisture and history of fertilizer application showed there was no overall effect of flooding on phosphate, nitrate, ammonium, iron concentrations and pH of pore water. Sulfate concentrations significantlyincreased. Hence, problematic phosphate release is only induced by long term flooding of fen meadows with a history of fertilization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)998-1002
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Flooding
  • Fen meadow
  • Turlough
  • experiments
  • Time-effects
  • pH
  • Phosphate release
  • Sulfate
  • Iron


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