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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Phosphorus Research Strategies to Meet Agricultural and Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 1, p. 176-181
    Received: Sept 8, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): ans3@psu.edu
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  1. Andrew Sharpley * and
  2. Hubert Tunney
  1. U SDA-ARS, Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Lab., University Park, PA 16802.
    T EGASC, Johnstown Castle, Soil and Environment Research Centre, Wexford, Ireland.



The accumulation, management, and transfer of P in intensive farming systems has increased P export from agricultural watersheds and accelerated eutrophication of surface waters. Even though much research on P has been done in the last 20 years, there are still too few answers to the many questions now being asked regarding agricultural production and environmental quality. To address these concerns, four areas of research are suggested: (i) Soil P testing for environmental risk assessment—What losses are acceptable and can these losses be determined by plot-scale or watershed-scale studies? Threshold P levels in soil and water should be established in combination with an assessment of site vulnerability to P loss. (ii) Pathways of P transport—An analysis of the relative importance of different flow pathways is needed at a watershed scale. (iii) Best Management Practice (BMP) development and implementation—Overall, BMPs must attempt to bring P inputs and outputs into closer balance and should be targeted first to critical source areas within a watershed. Alternative management recommendations, uses, and market demand for manures must be developed. (iv) Strategic initiatives to manage P—To initiate lasting changes, research should focus on consumer-supported programs that encourage farmer performance and stewardship to achieve agreed-upon environmental goals.

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