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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 1, p. 96-108
    Received: Aug 12, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): dbaker@mail.heidelberg.edu
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Phosphorus Budgets and Riverine Phosphorus Export in Northwestern Ohio Watersheds

  1. David B. Baker * and
  2. R. Peter Richards
  1. Water Quality Laboratory, Heidelberg College, Tiffin, OH 44883


Phosphorus (P) budgets for large watersheds are often used to predict trends in riverine P export. To test such predictions, we calculated annual P budgets for 1975–1995 for soils of the Maumee and Sandusky watersheds of northwestern Ohio and compared them with riverine P export from these watersheds. Phosphorus inputs to the soils include fertilizers, manure, rainfall, and sludge while outputs include crop removal and nonpoint-source export via rivers. Annual P inputs decreased due to reductions in fertilizer and manure inputs. Annual outputs increased due to increasing crop yields. Net P accumulation decreased from peak values of 13.4 and 9.5 kg P ha−1 yr−1 to 3.7 and 2.6 kg P ha−1 yr−1 for the Maumee and Sandusky watersheds, respectively. Thus, P budget analysis suggests that riverine P export should have increased throughout the study period, with smaller increases during more recent years. However, detailed water quality studies show that riverine export of total phosphorus (TP) has decreased by 25 to 40% and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) by 60 to 89%, both due primarily to decreases from nonpoint sources. We suggest that these decreases are associated with farmers' adoption of practices that minimize transport of recently applied P fertilizer and of sediments via surface runoff, coupled with changes in winter weather conditions. In comparison with most Midwestern watersheds, rivers draining these watersheds have high unit area yields of TP, low unit area yields of SRP, and high ratios of nonpoint source– to point source–derived P.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:96–108.