A sediment budget for a cultivated floodplain in tropical North Queensland, Australia

F Visser, C Roth, Robert Wasson, G Govers

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    Sugarcane is grown on the floodplains of northern Queensland adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Sediment and nutrient loss from these sugarcane areas is considered a potential threat to coastal and marine ecosystems. To enable sugarcane cultivation, farmers have structured the landscape into different elements, comprising fields, water furrows, 'headlands' and drains. In order to apply appropriate management of the landscape and reduce export of sediment, it is important to identify which of these elements act as sediment sources or sinks. In this study erosion and deposition rates were measured for the different landscape elements in a subcatchment of the Herbert River and used to create a sediment budget, Despite large uncertainties, the budget shows that the floodplain area is a net source of sediment. Estimated sediment export varies between 2 and 5 t ha-1 y-1. The relative importance of the landscape elements as sediment sources could also be determined. Plant cane is identified as the most important sediment source. Water furrows generate most sediment, but are a less important source of exported sediment due to their low connectivity. Head-lands and minor drains act as sediment traps. Copyright � 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1475-1490
    Number of pages16
    JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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