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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 6, p. 2140-2149
    Received: Aug 9, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): apmallar@iastate.edu
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Soil Phosphorus, Management Practices, and Their Relationship to Phosphorus Delivery in the Iowa Clear Lake Agricultural Watershed

  1. J. G. Klatta,
  2. A. P. Mallarino *a,
  3. J. A. Downingb,
  4. J. A. Kopaskab and
  5. D. J. Wittrya
  1. a Department of Agronomy, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
    b Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011


Clear Lake is on Iowa's list of impaired water bodies because of high P concentration. This study assessed soil-test phosphorus (STP), management practices, and P loads from its agricultural watershed. Management practice histories and STP for eight basins were surveyed in 1999. Soil samples (15-cm depth) were analyzed for STP with agronomic [Bray P1 (BP), Olsen (OP), Mehlich 3 (M3P)] and environmental [iron oxide–impregnated paper (FeP) and water extraction (WP)] tests. Total phosphorus (TP) concentrations in water discharge from five basins were measured during two years, and TP loads were measured for two basins. The agronomic P tests showed that 46 to 83% (depending on the test) of the area tested above optimum for crops. Correlations among tests were high for OP, M3P, and FeP (r > 0.96) and lower for BP and WP (r = 0.88–0.93). Moldboard- and chisel-plow tillage predominated (82% of the area). Applied P (mainly fertilizer) averaged 15 kg P ha−1 yr−1, and 40% of the high-testing area (M3P test) was being fertilized. The mean annual water TP concentration across five basins was 275 to 474 μg L−1 The two-year mean TP loads for the two gauged basins were 1504 and 1510 g P ha−1 yr−1 Water TP concentration increased linearly with increasing STP. Relationships were stronger for M3P and FeP (R 2 = 0.96–0.97 for annual means and 0.77–0.79 for storm-flow events) than for BP or WP (R 2 = 0.88–0.91 and 0.59–0.69, respectively). Improving P and soil conservation practices in high-testing areas could reduce P loads to the lake.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA