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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

Bioavailable Phosphorus in Runoff from Alfalfa, Smooth Bromegrass, and Alfalfa–Smooth Bromegrass


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 1, p. 280-286
    Received: Dec 4, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): rob.zemenchik@cnh.com
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  1. Robert A. Zemenchik *a,
  2. Nyle C. Wollenhauptb and
  3. Kenneth A. Albrechtc
  1. a CNH Soil Management Division, Rt. 150 E., P.O. Box 65, Goodfield, IL 61742
    b Soil Tech Inc., 5720 Smetana Dr., Minnetonka, MN 55343
    c Dep. of Agronomy, 1575 Linden Dr., Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706


Runoff from sloping landscapes cropped with established alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) may contain bioavailable P (BAP) which accelerates eutrophication of surface water bodies. Such BAP exists as either dissolved reactive P (DRP) or bioavailable reactive particulate P (BPP). We hypothesized that before and after harvest, sod-forming smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis Leyss.) or alfalfa–smooth bromegrass mixtures would have less BAP, DRP, and BPP runoff losses than taprooted alfalfa. Swards established in 1992 near Lancaster, WI were subjected to a 72 mm simulated rainfall applied for 1 h in 1993 and 1994 to forage regrowth at 4 and 6 wk after first harvest and immediately (0 wk) after second harvest. Hourly BAP losses for all sward types were 82% less when 1.5 Mg ha−1 of forage dry matter was present. High DRP losses (>0.050 kg ha−1) were associated with high DRP concentrations (>7.1 μmol L−1) and high surface soil P concentrations (>59 mg kg−1) resulting from broadcast maintenance P fertilizer. High BPP losses (>0.035 kg ha−1) were associated with high runoff volumes (>24 mm) and sediment concentrations (>2 g L−1). Summed over all 6 rainfall simulations, total BAP loss was only 0.07 kg ha−1 at the 6 wk stage of regrowth compared with 0.35 at 4 wk, and 0.41 at 0 wk. Moreover, there was no significant difference between sward types for DRP concentration, DRP loss, or BAP loss. We conclude that avoiding excessive defoliation was more effective at reducing BAP losses than specific forage species selection.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:280–286.