Elevated nutrient concentrations are of concern in many agricultural streams. This study observed seasonal variation of inorganic nitrogen concentrations in small drainage streams that receive discharge predominantly from three different types of agricultural practices, swine farms, aquaculture, and paddy fields, in the Tha Chin River Basin in central Thailand. The drainage streams had high inorganic nitrogen concentrations, low dissolved oxygen concentrations (<3 mg L−1
), and ammonium was the dominant form of inorganic nitrogen. The highest ammonium concentrations were observed in the drainage streams through swine farm areas, exceeding 4 mg L−1
throughout the year. In-stream ammonium retention was examined using pulse co-injections of ammonium and chloride in a drainage stream, and the effects of in-channel vegetation on ammonium retention were evaluated. This study showed that a considerable amount of ammonium was retained with the presence of in-channel vegetation. After vegetation removal, both the hydraulic and ammonium uptake length increased by >50 m, and the ammonium retention declined by approximately 50%. These results suggest that small agricultural streams experience a high concentration of inorganic nitrogen, similar or even more than larger streams, and that in-channel vegetation plays important role in nitrogen retention. The management of in-channel vegetation will have considerable effects on nitrogen transport.
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