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Practical and Innovative Measures for the Control of Agricultural Phosphorus Losses to Water: An Overview

Sharpley, Andrew, Foy, Bob, Withers, Paul
Journal of environmental quality 2000 v.29 no.1 pp. 1
phosphorus fertilizers, runoff, water pollution, pollution control
Inputs of P are essential for profitable crop and livestock production. However, its export in watershed runoff can accelerate the eutrophication of receiving fresh waters. The specialization of crop and livestock farming has created regional imbalances in P inputs in feed and fertilizer and output in farm produce. In many areas, soil P exceeds crop needs and has enriched surface runoff with P. This paper provides a brief overview of P management strategies to maintain agricultural production and protect water quality that were discussed at the conference, “Practical and Innovative Measures for the Control of Agricultural Phosphorus Losses to Water,” sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and held in Antrim, Northern Ireland, June 1998. The purpose of the conference was to assess current strategies for reducing the loads and concentrations of P from agricultural land to surface waters. Topics discussed at the interdisciplinary conference and reviewed here included sustainable P management in productive agriculture; assessing land application of P; evaluating and modeling P transport and transformations in soil, runoff, streams, and lakes; and implementation of integrated best management practices (BMPs). From these discussions, measures to control agricultural P transfer from soil to water may be brought about by optimizing fertilizer P use-efficiency, refining animal feed rations, using feed additives to increase P absorption by the animal, moving manure from surplus to deficit areas, and targeting conservation practices, such as reduced tillage, buffer strips, and cover crops, to critical areas of P export from a watershed.