The effect of soil phosphorus on particulate phosphorus in land runoff
Withers, P. J. A., Hartikainen, H., Barberis, E., Flynn, N. J. and Warren, G. P. (2009) The effect of soil phosphorus on particulate phosphorus in land runoff. European Journal of Soil Science, 60 (6). pp. 994-1004. ISSN 1351-0754
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2389.2009.01161.x
Accumulation of surplus phosphorus (P) in the soil and the resulting increased transport of P in land runoff contribute to freshwater eutrophication. The effects of increasing soil P (19–194 mg Olsen-P (OP) kg−1) on the concentrations of particulate P (PP), and sorption properties (Qmax, k and EPCo) of suspended solids (SS) in overland flow from 15 unreplicated field plots established on a dispersive arable soil were measured over three monitoring periods under natural rainfall. Concentrations of PP in plot runoff increased linearly at a rate of 2.6 μg litre−1 per mg OP kg−1 of soil, but this rate was approximately 50% of the rate of increase in dissolved P (< 0.45 μm). Concentrations of SS in runoff were similar across all plots and contained a greater P sorption capacity (mean + 57%) than the soil because of enrichment with fine silt and clay (0.45–20 μm). As soil P increased, the P enrichment ratio of the SS declined exponentially, and the values of P saturation (Psat; 15–42%) and equilibrium P concentration (EPCo; 0.7–5.5 mg litre−1) in the SS fell within narrower ranges compared with the soils (6–74% and 0.1–10 mg litre−1, respectively). When OP was < 100 mg kg−1, Psat and EPCo values in the SS were smaller than those in the soil and vice-versa, suggesting that eroding particles from soils with both average and high P fertility would release P on entering the local (Rosemaund) stream. Increasing soil OP from average to high P fertility increased the P content of the SS by approximately 10%, but had no significant (P > 0.05) effect on the Psat, or EPCo, of the SS. Management options to reduce soil P status as a means of reducing P losses in land runoff and minimizing eutrophication risk may therefore have more limited effect than is currently assumed in catchment management.