Runoff, sediment, organic carbon, and nutrient loads from a Canadian prairie micro-watershed under climate variability and land management practices

Environ Monit Assess. 2023 Oct 9;195(11):1285. doi: 10.1007/s10661-023-11913-3.


This study conducted a spatio-temporal analysis of runoff, total suspended sediment, suspended particulate carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus loadings within the 2.06 km2 Steppler subwatershed in southern Manitoba of Canada based on 11 years of field monitoring data collected at nine stations. Results showed that the nutrient losses were very small because of the implementation of multiple BMPs in the study area. However, a high spatio-temporal variation of runoff and water quality parameters was found for the nine fields within the subwatershed. The average runoff coefficient was 0.19 at the subwatershed outlet with sediment, suspended particulate carbon, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus losses of 73.8, 6.10, 4.54, and 0.76 kg/ha respectively. Spring snowmelt runoff was about 74.5% of the annual runoff at the subwatershed outlet, while for sediment, suspended particulate carbon, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus, the proportions were 61.1%, 63.6%, 74.9%, and 81.2% respectively during the monitoring period, which suggests that BMPs designed for reducing nutrient loadings from snowmelt runoff would be more effective than BMPs designed for reducing pollutant loading from rainfall storms in the study area. Research findings from this study will benefit the enhancement of current BMPs and the development of new BMPs in the region to minimize soil and nutrient losses from agricultural fields and improve water quality in receiving water bodies.

Keywords: BMPs; Climate; Runoff; Spatio-temporal variation; Steppler subwatershed; Water quality.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods
  • Canada
  • Conservation of Natural Resources* / methods
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Grassland
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Nutrients
  • Phosphorus / analysis
  • Water Movements


  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen