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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Landscape and Watershed Processes

Dynamics of Potassium Leaching on a Hillslope Grassland Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 1, p. 192-200
    Received: Oct 2, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): malfaro@remehue.inia.cl
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  1. Marta A. Alfaro *a,
  2. Peter J. Gregoryb and
  3. Stephen C. Jarvisc
  1. a National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA), Remehue Research Station, Casilla 24-O, Osorno, Chile
    b The University of Reading, Department of Soil Science, Whiteknights, PO Box 233, Reading, Berks, RG6 6DW, UK
    c Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER), North Wyke Research Station, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB, UK


There have been only a few studies of potassium (K) losses from grassland systems, and little is known about their dynamics, especially in relation to nitrogen (N) management. A study was performed during the autumn and winter of 1999 and 2000 to understand the effects of N and drainage on the dynamics of K leaching on a hillslope grassland soil in southwestern England. Two N application rates were studied (0 and 280 kg N ha−1 yr−1), both with and without tile drainage. Treatments receiving N also received farmyard manure (FM). Higher total K losses and K concentrations in the leachates were found in the N + FM treatments (150 and 185% higher than in 0 N treatments), which were related to K additions in the FM. Drainage reduced K losses by 35% because of an increase in dry matter production and a reduction in overland and preferential flow. The pattern of change in K concentration in the leachates was associated with preferential flow at the beginning of the drainage season and with matrix flow later in winter, and was best described by a double exponential curve. Rainfall intensity and the autumn application of FM were the main determinants of K losses by leaching. The study provided new insights into the relationships between soil hydrology, rainfall, and K leaching and its implications for grassland systems.

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