Evaluating slurry broadcasting and injection to ley for Phosphorus losses and fecal microorganisms in surface runoff

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The recent growth in the size of dairy cattle farms and the concentration of farms into smaller areas in Finland may increase local water pollution due to increased manure production and slurry application to grass. Therefore, a field study was conducted to monitor losses of total phosphorus (TP), dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP), and fecal microorganisms in surface runoff from a perennial ley. Cattle slurry was added once a year in June 1996–1997 (Study I) and biannually in June and October 1998–2000 (Study II). The slurry was surface broadcast or injected into the clay soil. The field had a slope of 0.9 to 1.7%. Mineral fertilizer was applied on control plots. Biannual slurry broadcasting increased DRP (p < 0.001) and TP losses (p < 0.001) and numbers of fecal microorganisms in surface runoff waters. The highest losses of TP (2.7 kg ha–1 yr–1) and DRP (2.2 kg ha–1 yr–1) and the highest numbers of fecal coliforms (880 colony-forming units [CFU] per 100 mL) and somatic coliphages (2700 plaque-forming units [PFU] per 100 mL) were measured after broadcasting slurry to wet soil followed by rainfall in fall 1998. Injection reduced the TP and DRP losses in surface runoff by 79 and 86%, respectively, compared with broadcasting (17 Oct. 1998–27 Oct. 1999). Corresponding numbers for fecal coliforms were 350 CFU (100 mL)–1 and for somatic coliphages were 110 PFU (100 mL)–1 in surface runoff after injection in October 1998. Slurry injection should be favored when spreading slurry amendments to grassland to avoid losses of P and fecal microorganisms in runoff to surface waters.

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