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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Submissions

Mitigating Diffuse Phosphorus Transfer from Agriculture According to Cost and Efficiency


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 38 No. 5, p. 2012-2022
    Received: Feb 26, 2008

    * Corresponding author(s): p.haygarth@lancaster.ac.uk
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  1. P. M. Haygarth *a,
  2. H. ApSimonb,
  3. M. Betsonc,
  4. D. Harrisc,
  5. R. Hodgkinsond and
  6. P. J. A. Withersd
  1. a Centre for Sustainable Water Management, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK
    b Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, UK
    c ADAS, Woodthorne, Wergs Road, Wolverhampton, WV6 8TQ, UK
    d ADAS Gleadthorpe, Meden Vale, Mansfield, Notts, NG20 9PF


Potential options for mitigating phosphorus (P) transfer from agriculture to water in England and Wales (E&W) were collated across a range of farm systems to assess their potential effectiveness in reducing mass of P transferred and potential cost (pounds sterling [£]) to the farming industry. A simple model framework (called PEASE) incorporating a number of assumptions was used to identify 15 methods for mitigating inputs of P to agricultural systems, 19 methods for preventing mobilization of P, and six methods for controlling the transport of P to streams. The scope for largest reductions in P inputs was to grassland and horticulture. Potential reductions in P mobilization were up to 1.2 kg P ha−1 Reductions in P transfer associated with transport mitigation were larger than those associated with input and mobilization methods (up to 2.2 kg P ha−1). The largest estimated reductions were achieved by installing buffer zones and constructed wetlands, the former being very cost effective (£3–5 kg−1 P saved). Plots of cost curves helped identify where the combined and cumulative P transfer reductions were attainable; these were approximately 0.2 kg ha−1 for uplands, 0.6 kg ha−1 for outdoor pigs, 0.9 kg ha−1 for intensive dairy, and 2.2 kg ha−1 for arable examples. We concluded that established catchment-scale evidence for mitigation is sparse, especially for specific farm systems in E&W. Sensitivities and uncertainties in the approach, especially associated with expert coefficients, are noted. This approach is nonetheless considered useful for prioritizing where and how best options might be most effectively targeted for least cost but greatest benefit.

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Copyright © 2009. 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