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The environmentally-sound management of agricultural phosphorus
- Sharpley, A.N., Withers, P.J.A.
- Fertilizer research 1994 v.39 no.2 pp. 133
- phosphorus, farming systems, losses from soil, eutrophication, runoff, watershed hydrology, water pollution, pollution control, nutrient management, nonpoint source pollution, administrative management, Europe, United States
- Freshwater eutrophication is often accelerated by increased phosphorus (P) inputs, a greater share of which now come from agricultural nonpoint sources than two decades ago. Maintenance of soil P at levels sufficient for crop needs is an essential part of sustainable agriculture. However, in areas of intensive crop and livestock production in Europe and the U.S.A., P has accumulated in soils to levels that are a long-term eutrophication rather than agronomic concern. Also, changes in land management in Europe and the U,S.A. have increased the potential for P loss in surface runoff and drainage. There is, thus, a need for information on how these factors influence the loss of P in agricultural runoff. The processes controlling the build-up of P in soil, its transport in surface and subsurface drainage in dissolved and particulate forms, and their biological availability in freshwater systems, are discussed in terms of environmentally sound P management. Such management will involve identifying P sources within watersheds; targeting cost-effective remedial measures to minimize P losses; and accounting for different water quality objectives within watersheds. The means by which this can be achieved are identified and include developing soil tests to determine the relative potential for P enrichment of agricultural runoff to occur; establishing threshold soil P levels which are of environmental concern; finding alternative uses for animal manures to decrease land area limitations for application; and adopting management systems integrating measures to reduce P sources as well as runoff and erosion potential.