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Development of an Indicator for Risk of Phosphorus Leaching

Hesketh, N., Brookes, P. C.
Journal of environmental quality 2000 v.29 no.1 pp. 105-110
phosphorus, leaching
Previous work showed that at soil P concentrations below 57 mg 0.5 NaHCO-extractable P (Olsen P) kg soil, little P was found in drainage waters collected from tile drains set 65 cm below the soil surface in soils from the Broadbalk Continuous Wheat Experiment. Above this soil P concentration (termed the) both total P and molybdate-reactive P (MRP) in drainage waters were linearly related to soil Olsen P concentrations. We now need to know if the Change-Point measured on Broadbalk occurs on other soils, and if so, whether a common value applies or if it varies depending upon soil type, management, and site hydrology. We investigated the possibility of 0.01 CaCl-extractable P being an indicator of the Change-Point. In all the soils studied, we found that the dynamics of P solubility in CaCl closely resembled the dynamics of P solubility in drainage waters of Broadbalk, since very distinct Change-Points occurred under both conditions. However, Change-Points measured following extraction with CaC varied widely between soils, from 10 to 119 mg Olsen P kg soil. Lysimeter studies showed, with some exceptions, good agreement between Change-Points measured in drainage water and in 0.01 CaCl. We therefore suggest that this approach may provide a valid indicator of the soil Olsen P concentration at which significant amounts of P begin to leach from soil to water, provided preferential pathways exist in the subsoil to permit P leaching down the soil profile in drainage water.