Article

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 269-284

First online:

Processes controlling soil phosphorus release to runoff and implications for agricultural management

  • R.W. McDowellAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of CambridgePasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, USDA-ARS
  • , A.N. SharpleyAffiliated withPasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, USDA-ARS Email author 
  • , L.M. CondronAffiliated withSoil, Plant & Ecological Sciences Division, Lincoln University
  • , P.M. HaygarthAffiliated withInstitute of Grassland and Environmental Research, North Wyke
  • , P.C. BrookesAffiliated withIACR-Rothamsted

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Abstract

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.

agricultural management agricultural runoff animal manures eutrophication phosphorus subsurface flow surface runoff