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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Landscape and Watershed Processes

Sources of Phosphorus Lost from a Grazed Pasture Receiving Simulated Rainfall


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 5, p. 1281-1288
    Received: Aug 30, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): richard.mcdowell@agresearch.co.nz
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  1. R. W. McDowell *a,
  2. D. M. Nashb and
  3. F. Robertsonc
  1. a AgResearch Limited, Invermay Agricultural Centre, Private Bag 50034, Mosgiel, New Zealand
    b Victorian Dep. of Primary Industries–Ellinbank, RMB 2460 Hazeldean Road, Ellinbank, Victoria 3821, Australia and e-Water CRC, Univ. of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
    c Victorian Dep. of Primary Industries–Hamilton, Mount Napier Road, Hamilton, Victoria 3300, Australia


Nutrients exported from grazing systems contribute to eutrophication of surface waters. In this study the contributions of soil, pasture-plants, and dung to P exports in overland flow were compared using simulated rainfall. The treatments were (i) grazed pasture-plants (isolated from soil by application of petrolatum to the soil surface), (ii) grazed pasture-plants and supporting soil, (iii) grazed pasture-plants and soil and treading, and (iv) grazed pasture-plants and soil and treading and dung. In general, dissolved reactive P (DRP) accounted for the majority of the P exported and P losses decreased in the order: treading and dung treatment > treading > pasture-plants and soil > pasture-plants. Very little dissolved organic P was lost in overland flow and the effects of treading diminished with time. Over a normal grazing cycle (30 d), the portion of P lost from pasture-plants was approximately half that lost from pasture-plants and soil, one-third that lost from treaded pasture-plants and soil, and one-quarter that lost from treaded pasture-plants, soil, and dung. The DRP in the pasture-plants treatment was approximately half that in the pasture-plants and soil treatment and suggests that a significant portion of the P exported from these systems is derived directly from pasture-plants. Due to higher proportions of particulate P (PP) in the treaded and dung treatments, DRP accounted for less of total P than in the pasture-plants and pasture-plants and soil treatments. Lower infiltration capacities probably caused by mechanical disaggregation at the soil surface are consistent with the higher proportions of PP in the treading treatments. These results were used to estimate P exports from a field trial site in Southland, New Zealand. The results suggested that P export attributable to fertilizer, dung, pasture-plants, and soil components were approximately 10, 30, 20, and 40%, respectively. These results suggest that since 90% of the P exports are derived from the soil–plant system and dung returns, managements to lessen P exports should continue to focus on maintaining soil P within the optimal range for pasture-plant production and maintaining soil surface properties that maximize infiltration and minimize overland flow.

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Copyright © 2007. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America