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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 6, p. 2183-2191

    * Corresponding author(s): pdelaun@uark.edu
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Development of a Phosphorus Index for Pastures Fertilized with Poultry Litter—Factors Affecting Phosphorus Runoff

  1. Paul B. DeLaune *a,
  2. Philip A. Mooreb,
  3. Dennis K. Carmanc,
  4. Andrew N. Sharpleyd,
  5. Brian E. Haggardb and
  6. Tommy C. Daniela
  1. a Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701
    b USDA-ARS, Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit, Fayetteville, AR 72701
    c USDA-NRCS, National Water Management Center, Little Rock, AR 72203
    d USDA-ARS, Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, PA 16802


Currently, several state and federal agencies are proposing upper limits on soil test phosphorus (P), above which animal manures cannot be applied, based on the assumption that high P concentrations in runoff are due to high soil test P. Recent studies show that other factors are more indicative of P concentrations in runoff from areas where manure is being applied. The original P index was developed as an alternative P management tool incorporating factors affecting both the source and transport of P. The objective of this research was to evaluate the effects of multiple variables on P concentrations in runoff water and to construct a P source component of a P index for pastures that incorporates these effects. The evaluated variables were: (i) soil test P, (ii) soluble P in poultry litter, (iii) P in poultry diets, (iv) fertilizer type, and (v) poultry litter application rate. Field studies with simulated rainfall showed that P runoff was affected by the amount of soluble P applied in the fertilizer source. Before manure applications, soil test P was directly related to soluble P concentrations in runoff water. However, soil test P had little effect on P runoff after animal manure was applied. Unlike most other P indices, weighting factors of the P source components in the P index for pastures are based on results from runoff studies conducted under various management scenarios. As a result, weighting factors for the P source potential variables are well justified. A modification of the P index using scientific data should strengthen the ability of the P index concept to evaluate locations and management alternatives for P losses.

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