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Water Res. 2002 Jul;36(12):3150-60.

Managing selenium-contaminated agricultural drainage water by the integrated on-farm drainage management system: role of selenium volatilization.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California at Berkeley, 94720, USA.


The Integrated on-Farm Drainage Management (IFDM) system was designed to dispose of selenium (Se)-contaminated agricultural irrigation drainage water through the sequential reuse of saline drainage water to grow crops having different salt tolerance. This study quantified the extent of biological volatilization in Se removal from the IFDM system located in the western San Joaquin Valley, California. Selenium volatilization from selected treatment areas, including pickleweed (Salicornia bigelovii Torr.), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata L.), bare soil, and the solar evaporator, was monitored biweekly using an open-flow sampling chamber system during the pickleweed growing season from February to September 1997, and monthly from September 1997 to January 1998. Biological volatilization from the pickleweed section removed 62.0 +/- 3.6 mg Se m(-2) y(-1) to the atmosphere, which was 5.5-fold greater than the Se accumulated in pickleweed tissues (i.e., phytoextraction). The total Se removed by volatilization from the bare soil, saltgrass, and the solar evaporator was 16.7 +/- 1.1, 4.8 +/- 0.3, and 4.3 +/- 0.9mg Se m(-2) y(-1), respectively. Selenium removal by volatilization accounted for 6.5% of the annual total Se input (957.7mg Sem(-2) y(-1)) in the pickleweed field, and about 1% of the total Se input (432.7 mg Se m(-2) y(-1)) in the solar evaporator. We concluded that Se volatilization under naturally occurring field conditions represented a relatively minor, but environmentally important pathway of Se removal from the IFDM system.

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