Phosphorus runoff: effect of tillage and soil phosphorus levels

J Environ Qual. 2003 Jul-Aug;32(4):1436-44. doi: 10.2134/jeq2003.1436.


Continued inputs of fertilizer and manure in excess of crop requirements have led to a build-up of soil phosphorus (P) levels and increased P runoff from agricultural soils. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of two tillage practices (no-till and chisel plow) and a range of soil P levels on the concentration and loads of dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP), algal-available phosphorus (AAP), and total phosphorus (TP) losses in runoff, and to evaluate the P loss immediately following tillage in the fall, and after six months, in the spring. Rain simulations were conducted on a Typic Argiudoll under a corn (Zea mays L.)-soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation. Elapsed time after tillage (fall vs. spring) was not related to any form of P in runoff. No-till runoff averaged 0.40 mg L(-1) and 0.05 kg ha(-1) DRP and chisel-plow plots averaged 0.24 mg L(-1) and 0.02 kg ha(-1) DRP concentration and loads, respectively. The relationship between DRP and Bray P1 extraction values was approximated by a logistic function (S-shaped curve) for no-till plots and by a linear function for tilled plots. No significant differences were observed between tillage systems for TP and AAP in runoff. Bray P1 soil extraction values and sediment concentration in runoff were significantly related to the concentrations and amounts of AAP and TP in runoff. These results suggest that soil Bray P1 extraction values and runoff sediment concentration are two easily measured variables for adequate prediction of P runoff from agricultural fields.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Eukaryota
  • Eutrophication*
  • Fertilizers
  • Manure
  • Phosphorus / analysis*
  • Rain
  • Seasons
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Soybeans
  • Water Movements*
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*
  • Zea mays


  • Fertilizers
  • Manure
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants
  • Phosphorus