Peter J. A. Kleinman


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Addressing conservation practice limitations and trade‐offs for reducing phosphorus loss from agricultural fields
Peter J. A. Kleinman, Deanna L. Osmond, Laura E. Christianson, Don Flaten, James A. Ippolito, Helen P. Jarvie, Jason P. Kaye, Kevin W. King, April B. Leytem, Joshua M. McGrath, Nathan O. Nelson, Amy L. Shober, Douglas R. Smith, K. W. Staver, Andrew N. Sharpley
Agricultural & Environmental Letters, Volume 7, Issue 2

Conservation practices that reduce nutrient and soil loss from agricultural lands to water are fundamental to watershed management programs. Avoiding trade-offs of conservation practices is essential to the successful mitigation of watershed phosphorus (P) losses. We review documented trade-offs associated with conservation practices, particularly those practices that are intended to control and trap P from agricultural sources. A regular theme is the trade-off between controlling P loss linked to sediment while increasing dissolved P losses (no-till, cover crops, vegetated buffers, constructed wetlands, sediment control basins). A variety of factors influence the degree to which these trade-offs occur, complicated by their interaction and uncertainties associated with climate change. However, acknowledging these trade-offs and anticipating their contribution to watershed outcomes are essential to the sustainability of conservation systems.


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One size does not fit all: Toward regional conservation practice guidance to reduce phosphorus loss risk in the Lake Erie watershed
Merrin L. Macrae, Helen P. Jarvie, Roy Brouwer, Grant E. Gunn, Keith Reid, Pamela Joosse, Kevin W. King, Peter J. A. Kleinman, Doug Smith, Mark R. Williams, Martha Zwonitzer
Journal of Environmental Quality, Volume 50, Issue 3

Agricultural phosphorus (P) losses to surface water bodies remain a global eutrophication concern, despite the application of conservation practices on farm fields. Although it is generally agreed upon that the use of multiple conservation practices (“stacking”) will lead to greater improvements to water quality, this may not be cost effective to farmers, reducing the likelihood of adoption. At present, wholesale recommendations of conservation practices are given; however, the application of specific conservation practices in certain environments (e.g., no-till with surface application, cover crops) may not be effective and can even lead to unintended consequences. In this paper, we present the Lake Erie watershed as a case study. The Lake Erie watershed contains regions with unique physical geographies that include differences in climate, soil, topography, and land use, which have implications for both P transport from agricultural fields and the efficacy of conservation practices in mitigating P losses. We define major regions within the Lake Erie watershed where common strategies for conservation practice implementation are appropriate, and we propose a five-step plan for bringing regionally tailored, adaptive, and cost-conscious conservation practice into watershed planning. Although this paper is specific to the Lake Erie watershed, our framework can be transferred across broader geographic regions to provide guidance for watershed planning.


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Impacts of Cover Crops and Crop Residues on Phosphorus Losses in Cold Climates: A Review
Jian Liu, Merrin L. Macrae, J. M. Elliott, Helen M. Baulch, Henry F. Wilson, Peter J. A. Kleinman
Journal of Environmental Quality, Volume 48, Issue 4

The use of cover crops and crop residues is a common strategy to mitigate sediment and nutrient losses from land to water. In cold climates, elevated dissolved P losses can occur associated with freeze-thaw of plant materials. Here, we review the impacts of cover crops and crop residues on dissolved P and total P loss in cold climates across ∼41 studies, exploring linkages between water-extractable P (WEP) in plant materials and P loss in surface runoff and subsurface drainage. Water-extractable P concentrations are influenced by plant type and freezing regimes. For example, WEP was greater in brassica cover crops than in non-brassicas, and increased with repeated freeze-thaw cycles. However, total P losses in surface runoff and subsurface drainage from cropped fields under cold climates were much lower than plant WEP, owing to retention of 45 to >99% of released P by soil. In cold climatic regions, cover crops and crop residues generally prevented soil erosion and loss of particle-bound P during nongrowing seasons in erodible landscapes but tended to elevate dissolved P loss in nonerodible soils. Their impact on total P loss was inconsistent across studies and complicated by soil, climate, and management factors. More research is needed to understand interactions between these factors and plant type that influence P loss, and to improve the assessment of crop contributions to P loss in field settings in cold climates. Further, tradeoffs between P loss and the control of sediment loss and N leaching by plants should be acknowledged.

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The Latitudes, Attitudes, and Platitudes of Watershed Phosphorus Management in North America
Douglas R. Smith, Merrin L. Macrae, Peter J. A. Kleinman, Helen P. Jarvie, Kevin W. King, Ray B. Bryant
Journal of Environmental Quality, Volume 48, Issue 5

Phosphorus (P) plays a crucial role in agriculture as a primary fertilizer nutrient-and as a cause of the eutrophication of surface waters. Despite decades of efforts to keep P on agricultural fields and reduce losses to waterways, frequent algal blooms persist, triggering not only ecological disruption but also economic, social, and political consequences. We investigate historical and persistent factors affecting agricultural P mitigation in a transect of major watersheds across North America: Lake Winnipeg, Lake Erie, the Chesapeake Bay, and Lake Okeechobee/Everglades. These water bodies span 26 degrees of latitude, from the cold climate of central Canada to the subtropics of the southeastern United States. These water bodies and their associated watersheds have tracked trajectories of P mitigation that manifest remarkable similarities, and all have faced challenges in the application of science to agricultural management that continue to this day. An evolution of knowledge and experience in watershed P mitigation calls into question uniform solutions as well as efforts to transfer strategies from other arenas. As a result, there is a need to admit to shortcomings of past approaches, plotting a future for watershed P mitigation that accepts the sometimes two-sided nature of Hennig Brandt's "Devil's Element."