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Dynamics of potassium leaching on a hillslope grassland soil

Alfaro, M. A., Gregory, P. J. and Jarvis, S. C. (2004) Dynamics of potassium leaching on a hillslope grassland soil. Journal of Environmental Quality, 33 (1). pp. 192-200. ISSN 0047-2425

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Abstract/Summary

There have been only a few studies of potassium (K) losses from grassland systems, and little is known about their dynamics, especially in relation to nitrogen (N) management. A study was performed during the autumn and winter of 1999 and 2000 to understand the effects of N and drainage on the dynamics of K leaching on a hillslope grassland soil in southwestern England. Two N application rates were studied (0 and 280 kg N ha(-1) yr(-1)), both with and without the drainage. Treatments receiving N also received farmyard manure (FM). Higher total K losses and K concentrations in the leachates were found in the N + FM treatments (150 and 185% higher than in 0 N treatments), which were related to K additions in the FM. Drainage reduced K losses by 35% because of an increase in dry matter production and a reduction in overland and preferential flow. The pattern of change in K concentration in the leachates was associated with preferential flow at the beginning of the drainage season and with matrix flow later in winter, and was best described by a double exponential curve. Rainfall intensity and the autumn application of FM were the main determinants of K losses by leaching. The study provided new insights into the relationships between soil hydrology, rainfall, and K leaching and its implications for grassland systems.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:3170
Uncontrolled Keywords:PHOSPHORUS TRANSFER GRAZED GRASSLAND NUTRIENT LOSSES SURFACE RUNOFF DRAINAGE LYSIMETERS SYSTEMS BUDGETS EROSION
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