Residual effects of compost and plowing on phosphorus and sediment in runoff

J Environ Qual. 2007 Aug 31;36(5):1521-7. doi: 10.2134/jeq2006.0404. Print 2007 Sep-Oct.


Manure application can lead to excessive soil test P levels in surface soil, which can contribute to increased P concentration in runoff. However, manure application often results in reduced runoff and sediment loss. Research was conducted to determine the residual effects of previously applied compost, plowing of soil with excessive soil test P, and application of additional compost after plowing on volume of runoff and loss of sediment and P in runoff. The research was conducted in 2004 and 2005 under natural rainfall events with plots of 11-m length where low-P and high-P compost had been applied during April 1998 to January 2001. During this initial application period, Bray-P1 in the surface 5-cm of depth was increased from 14 to 553 mg kg(-1) for the high-P compost. Inversion plowing in the spring of 2004 greatly decreased P levels in the surface soil and over the following year reduced runoff by 35% and total P losses by 51% compared with the unplowed compost treatments. Sediment loss was increased with plowing compared with the unplowed compost applied treatments but less than with the no-compost treatment. The application of additional compost after plowing increased surface soil P and dissolved reactive P (DRP) in runoff but did not increase particulate P in runoff. Unplowed compost-amended soil continued to reduce sediment loss but exhibited increased DRP loss even 5 yr after the last application. Plowing to invert excessively high-P surface soil was effective in reducing runoff and DRP loss.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fertilizers / analysis
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Phosphorus / analysis*
  • Soil*
  • Waste Management


  • Fertilizers
  • Soil
  • Phosphorus