Les anciennes cressonnières de l'Essonne : Effets de la recolonisation des zones humides artificielles sur la dynamique de l'azote

Abstract : River Essonne is quantitatively and qualitatively influenced by groundwater. Nitrate concentrations of this groundwater are high and are still increasing, threatening the quality of the watercourse. In the past, watercress farms (artificial wetlands where watercress [Nasturtium officinale R. Br.] is cultivated) were numerous between this groundwater and the river, but they are nowadays massively abandoned. These wetlands potentially play the role of buffer zones, and could contribute to maintain the quality of surface water with respect to nitrate. This study aims to assess nitrate mitigation in watercress farms, but also the changes occurring in these wetlands after watercress cropping has been abandoned and their consequences on nitrate removal. This work is based upon the study of an experimental site (Maisse, France) including several stages of abandon, and on laboratory experiments (bioreactors). Macrophytes succession after the abandonment of watercress farms has been assessed at the experimental site and in 14 other abandoned sites of the Essonne valley. After the abandonment of the crop, watercress do not maintain in the beds. The wetlands progressively evolve towards a terrestrial ecosystem, being successively colonized by pioneer or invasives hydrophytes (Lemna minuta Kunth.) and by pioneer helophytes (Epilobium hirsutum L., Typha latifolia L., Phragmites australis (Cav.) Steud.). To finish with, the vegetation consists in reed beds, with the appearance of shrubby and woody species (Salix sp) which seems to indicate an evolution towards an alluvial forest. Nitrates were partially removed from the water between the inflow and the outflow of our experimental site. Cultivated beds were the most efficient with a mean removal rate of 1770 mg NO3-/m²/day during this 3-years survey. In comparison, abandoned beds exhibited lower removal rates ranging from 550 to 750 mg/m²/day. In spite of these rates, the effects on nitrate concentrations in water were limited (approximately 44 mg/L at the inflow and 42 mg/L at the outflow), because the residence times were short. Nitrate removal rates varied seasonally, and were highest in summer and lowest in winter. The amplitude of these variations was higher in cultivated beds than in abandoned beds. The estimate of nitrate uptake by macrophytes revealed that denitrification could account for 70 to 85% of nitrate removal. Measurement of potential denitrification in bioreactors showed that organic carbon availability limited denitrification in watercress farm sediments. Watercress is a readily available source of carbon, in contrast with helophytes which dominate abandoned beds such as Phragmites australis.The effects of nitrate mitigation in watercress farms on nitrate concentrations in the river Essonne are very limited, but can be improved with the management of carbon sources and hydraulic residence time in these wetlands.
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Jérémy Pulou. Les anciennes cressonnières de l'Essonne : Effets de la recolonisation des zones humides artificielles sur la dynamique de l'azote. Autre. AgroParisTech, 2011. Français. ⟨NNT : 2011AGPT0078⟩. ⟨pastel-00910075⟩

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