Application of manure to no-till soils: Phosphorus losses by sub-surface and surface pathways

Peter J.A. Kleinman, Andrew N. Sharpley, Lou S. Saporito, Anthony R. Buda, Ray B. Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


The acceleration of surface water eutrophication attributed to agricultural runoff has focused attention on manure management in no-till. We evaluated losses of phosphorus (P) in sub-surface and surface flow as a function of dairy manure application to no-till soils in north-central Pennsylvania. Monitoring of a perennial spring over 36 months revealed that dissolved reactive P (DRP) concentrations increased 3- to 28-fold above background levels whenever manure was broadcast to nearby field soils. A study conducted with 30-cm deep intact soil cores indicated that incorporation of manure by tillage lowered P loss in leachate relative to broadcast application, presumably due to the destruction of preferential flow pathways. More P was leached from a sandy loam than a clay loam soil, although differences between soils were not as great as differences between application methods. In contrast, rainfall simulations on 2-m 2 field runoff plots showed that total P (TP) losses in surface runoff differed significantly by soil but not by application method. Forms of P in surface runoff did change with application method, with DRP accounting for 87 and 24% of TP from broadcast and tilled treatments, respectively. Losses of TP in leachate from manured columns over 7 weeks (0.22-0.38 kg P ha-1) were considerably lower than losses in surface runoff from manured plots subjected to a single simulated rainfall event (0.31-2.07 kg TP ha -1). Results confirm the near-term benefits of incorporating manure by tillage to protect groundwater quality, but suggest that for surface water quality, avoiding soils prone to runoff is more important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-227
Number of pages13
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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