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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 2, p. 749-756

    * Corresponding author(s): Peter.Vadas@ars.usda.gov
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A Simple Method to Predict Dissolved Phosphorus in Runoff from Surface-Applied Manures

  1. P. A. Vadas *,
  2. P. J. A. Kleinman and
  3. A. N. Sharpley
  1. USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, Building 3702, Curtin Rd., University Park, PA 16802-3702


Computer models are a rapid, inexpensive way to identify agricultural areas with a high potential for P loss, but most models poorly simulate dissolved P release from surface-applied manures to runoff. We developed a simple approach to predict dissolved P release from manures based on observed trends in laboratory extraction of P in dairy, poultry, and swine manures with water over different water to manure ratios. The approach predicted well dissolved inorganic (R 2 = 0.70) and organic (R 2 = 0.73) P release from manures and composts for data from leaching experiments with simulated rainfall. However, it predicted poorly (R 2 = 0.18) dissolved inorganic P concentrations in runoff from soil boxes where dairy, poultry, and swine manures had been surface-applied and subjected to simulated rainfall. Multiplying predicted runoff P concentrations by the ratio of runoff to rainfall improved the relationship between measured and predicted runoff P concentrations, but runoff P was still overpredicted for dairy and swine manures. We attributed this overprediction to immediate infiltration of dissolved P in the freely draining water of dairy and swine manure slurries upon their application to soils. Further multiplying predicted runoff dissolved inorganic P concentrations by 0.35 for dairy and 0.60 for swine manures resulted in an accurate prediction of dissolved P in runoff (R 2 = 0.71). The ability of our relatively simple approach to predict dissolved inorganic P concentrations in runoff from surface-applied manures indicates its potential to improve water quality models, but field testing of the approach is necessary first.

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