Evaluating aeration techniques for decreasing phosphorus export from grasslands receiving manure

J Environ Qual. 2008 May 2;37(3):1279-87. doi: 10.2134/jeq2007.0289. Print 2008 May-Jun.


Because surface-applied manures can contribute to phosphorus (P) in runoff, we examined mechanical aeration of grasslands for reducing P transport by increasing infiltration of rainfall and binding of P with soil minerals. The effects of three aeration treatments and a control (aeration with cores, continuous-furrow "no-till" disk aeration perpendicular to the slope, slit aeration with tines, and no aeration treatment) on the export of total suspended solids, total Kjeldahl P (TKP), total dissolved P (TDP), dissolved reactive P (DRP), and bioavailable P (BAP) in runoff from grasslands with three manure treatments (broiler litter, dairy slurry, and no manure) were examined before and after simulated compaction by cattle. Plots (0.75 x 2 m) were established on a Cecil soil series with mixed tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.)-bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] vegetation on 8 to 12% slopes. Manures were applied at a target rate of 30 kg P ha(-1), and simulated rainfall was applied at a rate of 85 mm h(-1). Although the impact of aeration type on P export varied before and after simulated compaction, overall results indicated that core aeration has the greatest potential for reducing P losses. Export of TKP was reduced by 55%, TDP by 62%, DRP by 61%, total BAP by 54%, and dissolved BAP by 57% on core-aerated plots with applied broiler litter as compared with the control (p < 0.05). Core and no-till disk aeration also showed potential for reducing P export from applied dairy slurry (p < 0.10). Given that Cecil soil is common in pastures receiving broiler litter in the Southern Piedmont, our results indicate that pairing core aeration of these pastures with litter application could have a widespread impact on surface water quality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air*
  • Biological Availability
  • Fertilizers*
  • Manure*
  • Phosphorus / analysis
  • Phosphorus / chemistry*
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Poaceae* / metabolism
  • Rain


  • Fertilizers
  • Manure
  • Phosphorus