Main content area

Phosphorus Research Strategies to Meet Agricultural and Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century

Sharpley, Andrew, Tunney, Hubert
Journal of environmental quality 2000 v.29 no.1 pp. 176
phosphorus, losses from soil, pollution control, soil nutrients, water pollution, intensive farming, agricultural watersheds, eutrophication, agricultural soils, best management practices, animal manures, organic fertilizers, research
The accumulation, management, and transfer of P in intensive farming systems has increased P export from agricultural watersheds and accelerated eutrophication of surface waters. Even though much research on P has been done in the last 20 years, there are still too few answers to the many questions now being asked regarding agricultural production and environmental quality. To address these concerns, four areas of research are suggested: (i) —What losses are acceptable and can these losses be determined by plot-scale or watershed-scale studies? Threshold P levels in soil and water should be established in combination with an assessment of site vulnerability to P loss. (ii) —An analysis of the relative importance of different flow pathways is needed at a watershed scale. (iii) —Overall, BMPs must attempt to bring P inputs and outputs into closer balance and should be targeted first to critical source areas within a watershed. Alternative management recommendations, uses, and market demand for manures must be developed. (iv) —To initiate lasting changes, research should focus on consumer-supported programs that encourage farmer performance and stewardship to achieve agreed-upon environmental goals.