Aerating grasslands: effects on runoff and phosphorus losses from applied broiler litter

J Environ Qual. 2007 Jan 9;36(1):208-15. doi: 10.2134/jeq2006.0012. Print 2007 Jan-Feb.


Aeration has been promoted as improving infiltration of rainfall and extending grass or forage productivity, but research on the impact of this practice on P losses from grasslands has had mixed results. We designed a study to determine at the field scale, using a paired watershed approach, the impact of slit aeration on runoff volume and P losses in runoff from fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.)/bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.) hay fields fertilized with broiler litter. Three pairs of 0.8-ha fields, each with similar soils (Typic Kanhapludults, Aquic Hapludults, and Aquultic Hapludalfs), were fertilized with broiler litter and monitored under similar management from 1995 through 1998, then one field in each pair received aeration treatment from 2001 through 2003. In the field with mostly well-drained soils, grassland aeration reduced surface runoff volume and mass losses of dissolved reactive P (DRP) in runoff by approximately 35%. In contrast, when poorly drained soils dominated, grassland aeration increased runoff volume (4.8 mm/runoff event) and mass losses of DRP and total P (0.25 kg TP ha-1 per runoff event). This implies that aeration of well-drained soils in the top poultry-producing counties of Georgia (0.2 million ha) could decrease dissolved phosphorus losses by more than 500 Mg P each year. This is not the case if soils are poorly drained.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air*
  • Animals
  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation / methods*
  • Phosphorus / analysis*
  • Poaceae*
  • Poultry*


  • Phosphorus