Processes controlling soil phosphorus release to runoff and implications for agricultural management
- Cite this article as:
- McDowell, R., Sharpley, A., Condron, L. et al. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems (2001) 59: 269. doi:10.1023/A:1014419206761
Phosphorus (P) loss from agricultural land to surface waters is well known as an environmental issue because of the role of P in freshwater eutrophication. Much research has been conducted on the erosion and loss of P in sediments and surface runoff. Recently, P loss in sub-surface runoff via agricultural drainage has been identified as environmentally significant. High soil P levels are considered as a potential source of P loss. However, without favourable hydrological conditions P will not move. In this paper, we review the basis of soil P release into solution and transport in surface and sub-surface runoff. Our objectives are to outline the role of soil P and hydrology in P movement and management practices that can minimize P loss to surface waters. Remedial strategies to reduce the risk of P loss in the short-term are discussed, although it is acknowledged that long-term solutions must focus on achieving a balance between P inputs in fertilizers and feed and P outputs in production systems.