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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Development of an Indicator for Risk of Phosphorus Leaching


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 1, p. 105-110
    Received: Aug 28, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): nick.hesketh@bbsrc.ac.uk
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  1. N. Hesketh * and
  2. P. C. Brookes
  1. Soil Science Dep., IACR-Rothamsted, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ UK.



Previous work showed that at soil P concentrations below 57 mg 0.5 M NaHCO3-extractable P (Olsen P) kg−1 soil, little P was found in drainage waters collected from tile drains set 65 cm below the soil surface in soils from the Broadbalk Continuous Wheat Experiment. Above this soil P concentration (termed the Change-Point) both total P and molybdate-reactive P (MRP) in drainage waters were linearly related to soil Olsen P concentrations. We now need to know if the Change-Point measured on Broadbalk occurs on other soils, and if so, whether a common value applies or if it varies depending upon soil type, management, and site hydrology. We investigated the possibility of 0.01 M CaCl2-extractable P being an indicator of the Change-Point. In all the soils studied, we found that the dynamics of P solubility in CaCl2 closely resembled the dynamics of P solubility in drainage waters of Broadbalk, since very distinct Change-Points occurred under both conditions. However, Change-Points measured following extraction with CaC2 varied widely between soils, from 10 to 119 mg Olsen P kg−1 soil. Lysimeter studies showed, with some exceptions, good agreement between Change-Points measured in drainage water and in 0.01 M CaCl2. We therefore suggest that this approach may provide a valid indicator of the soil Olsen P concentration at which significant amounts of P begin to leach from soil to water, provided preferential pathways exist in the subsoil to permit P leaching down the soil profile in drainage water.

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