Estimating Phosphorus loss in runoff from manure and fertilizer for a Phosphorus loss quantification tool

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Nonpoint-source pollution of fresh waters by P is a concern because it contributes to accelerated eutrophication. Given the state of the science concerning agricultural P transport, a simple tool to quantify annual, field-scale P loss is a realistic goal. We developed new methods to predict annual dissolved P loss in runoff from surface-applied manures and fertilizers and validated the methods with data from 21 published field studies. We incorporated these manure and fertilizer P runoff loss methods into an annual, field-scale P loss quantification tool that estimates dissolved and particulate P loss in runoff from soil, manure, fertilizer, and eroded sediment. We validated the P loss tool using independent data from 28 studies that monitored P loss in runoff from a variety of agricultural land uses for at least 1 yr. Results demonstrated (i) that our new methods to estimate P loss from surface manure and fertilizer are an improvement over methods used in existing Indexes, and (ii) that it was possible to reliably quantify annual dissolved, sediment, and total P loss in runoff using relatively simple methods and readily available inputs. Thus, a P loss quantification tool that does not require greater degrees of complexity or input data than existing P Indexes could accurately predict P loss across a variety of management and fertilization practices, soil types, climates, and geographic locations. However, estimates of runoff and erosion are still needed that are accurate to a level appropriate for the intended use of the quantification tool.

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