A model for phosphorus transformation and runoff loss for surface-applied manures

J Environ Qual. 2007 Jan 9;36(1):324-32. doi: 10.2134/jeq2006.0213. Print 2007 Jan-Feb.


Agricultural P transport in runoff is an environmental concern. An important source of P runoff is surface-applied, unincorporated manures, but computer models used to assess P transport do not adequately simulate P release and transport from surface manures. We developed a model to address this limitation. The model operates on a daily basis and simulates manure application to the soil surface, letting 60% of manure P infiltrate into soil if manure slurry with less than 15% solids is applied. The model divides manure P into four pools, water-extractable inorganic and organic P, and stable inorganic and organic P. The model simulates manure dry matter decomposition, and manure stable P transformation to water-extractable P. Manure dry matter and P are assimilated into soil to simulate bioturbation. Water-extractable P is leached from manure when it rains, and a portion of leached P can be transferred to surface runoff. Eighty percent of manure P leached into soil by rain remains in the top 2 cm, while 20% leaches deeper. This 2-cm soil layer contributes P to runoff via desorption. We used data from field studies in Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arkansas to build and validate the model. Validation results show the model accurately predicted cumulative P loads in runoff, reflecting successful simulation of the dynamics of manure dry matter, manure and soil P pools, and storm-event runoff P concentrations. Predicted runoff P concentrations were significantly related to (r2=0.57) but slightly less than measured concentrations. Our model thus represents an important modification for field or watershed scale models that assess P loss from manured soils.

MeSH terms

  • Alum Compounds / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Manure*
  • Phosphorus / chemistry*
  • Poultry
  • Rain


  • Alum Compounds
  • Manure
  • Phosphorus
  • aluminum sulfate