Management Practice Effects on Phosphorus Losses in Runoff in Corn Production Systems

Phosphorus losses in runoff from cropland can contribute to nonpoint-source pollution of surface waters. Management practices in corn (Zea mays L.) production systems may influence P losses. Field experiments with treatments including differing soil test P levels, tillage and manure application combinations, and manure and biosolids application histories were used to assess these management practice effects on P losses. Runoff from simulated rainfall (76 mm h?1) was collected from 0.83-m2 areas for 1 h after rainfall initiation and analyzed for dissolved reactive P (DRP), bioavailable P, total P (TP), and sediment. In no-till corn, both DRP concentration and load increased as Bray P1 soil test (STP) increased from 8 to 62 mg kg?1 A 5-yr history of manure or biosolids application greatly increased STP and DRP concentrations in runoff. The 5-yr manure treatment had higher DRP concentration but lower DRP load than the 5-yr biosolids treatment, probably due to residue accumulation and lower runoff in the manure treatment. Studies of tillage and manure application effects on P losses showed that tillage to incorporate manure generally lowered runoff DRP concentration but increased TP concentration and loads due to increased sediment loss. Management practices have a major influence on P losses in runoff in corn production systems that may overshadow the effects of STP alone. Results from this work, showing that some practices may have opposite effects on DRP vs. TP losses, emphasize the need to design management recommendations to minimize losses of those P forms with the greatest pollution potential.
Date Issued
Journal Title
Journal of Environmental Quality
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Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
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