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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Reviews & Analyses

Nitrogen and Phosphorus Exports from High Rainfall Zone Cropping in Australia: Issues and Opportunities for Research


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 6, p. 1551-1562
    Received: Oct 25, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): Nicole.Mathers@dpi.vic.gov.au
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  1. Nicole J. Mathers *a,
  2. David M. Nasha and
  3. Philomena Gangaiyaab
  1. a Primary Industries Research Victoria (PIRVic), Dep. of Primary Industries, 1301 Hazeldean Rd., Ellinbank 3821, Victoria, Australia
    b present address: Wollongong City Council, 41 Burelli St., Locked Bag 8821, Wollongong 2521, NSW, Australia


Cropping is one of the many industries contributing to the excessive loading of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to rivers and lakes in Australia. Nitrogen and P exports from cropping systems have not been systematically investigated to the same extent as those from other agricultural sectors, such as dairy pastures. Therefore, this review relies heavily on information derived from agronomy and other fundamental studies on soil–nutrient interactions to determine the potential for nutrient export from high rainfall zone (HRZ) cropping. There is a great deal of variation in environmental and management strategies across cropping in the HRZ, which suggests that nutrient exports could occur under a range of scenarios. The potential for exports is therefore discussed within a conceptual framework of nutrient sources, mechanisms for mobilization, and transport pathways in HRZ cropping. Transport refers to nutrient movement by flowing water after it has been mobilized, and export refers to the transfer of nutrients from one landscape compartment (e.g., a soil) to another (e.g., a stream or lake). The transport of nutrients from HRZ cropping can occur through surface and/or subsurface pathways depending on factors such as landform and infiltration and nutrient sorption characteristics of the soil profile. Surface pathways are likely to be more significant for phosphorus. For N, subsurface movement is likely to be as significant as surface movement because nitrates are generally not bound by most soils. Information about mechanisms of nutrient mobilization is essential for developing management strategies to control nutrient exports from HRZ cropping.

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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