Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 83–99 | Cite as

Transformations of soil and manure phosphorus after surface application of manure to field plots

  • P. A. VadasEmail author
  • R. D. Harmel
  • P. J. A. Kleinman
Original Paper


Transfer of phosphorus (P) from surface-applied manures to runoff is an important source of pollution, but few studies have closely monitored P dynamics in manure, soil, and runoff through time. We monitored manure and soil P over 14 to 17 months in field experiments in Texas and Pennsylvania, USA following dairy and poultry manure surface application. Manure was applied to porous fabric that enabled discrete sampling of both manure and underlying soil. Manure mass consistently decreased while manure total P was essentially constant through time. Manure water extractable P decreased rapidly for the first two months, likely due to rainfall leaching, but then maintained stable concentrations thereafter, with other forms of manure P gradually transformed to water extractable forms. Soil P from the upper 2 cm rapidly increased after manure application in association with manure leaching by rain. After 2 to 3 months, soil P peaked and either remained constant or gradually declined. Similar trends occurred at 2–5 and 5–10 cm, but with lesser magnitudes. At 10–15 cm, soil P changed little over time. In Pennsylvania, naturally occurring runoff from 0.7-m × 1.3-m plots without and without manure was also monitored. Runoff dissolved P concentrations were greatest for the first event after manure application and decreased steadily through time, but remained greater than P concentrations from control plots, and were always well related to manure water extractable P. This study reveals that management practices for water quality protection must consider the potential for manure P transformations to contribute dissolved P to runoff long after manure is applied.


Animal manure Field plots Phosphorus Surface runoff Soil labile phosphorus 





inorganic manure water extractable P


organic manure water extractable P


total manure P


dissolved inorganic P in runoff


dissolved organic P in runoff


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. A. Vadas
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. D. Harmel
    • 2
  • P. J. A. Kleinman
    • 3
  1. 1.USDA-ARS, U.S. Dairy Forage Research CenterMadisonUSA
  2. 2.USDA-ARS, Grassland, Soil, and Water Research LaboratoryTempleUSA
  3. 3.USDA-ARS, Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research UnitUniversity ParkUSA

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