Nutrient losses from agricultural fields are the largest sources of phosphorus (P) entering the Great Lakes in North America. Stacked conservation practices (CPs) may reduce P losses from individual fields. Simple low-cost, low disturbance, commercially available filters containing wood chips and phosphorus sorbing materials (PSM) were installed on two fields already using conservation practices in midwestern Ontario (ILD and LON) to quantify their ability to remove soluble reactive P (SRP), particulate P (PP), total P (TP) and total suspended sediments (TSS) from surface runoff. Laboratory tests on unused (new) and used (field) filter materials were also conducted to estimate P sorption and remobilization potentials. During the two-year study period, the filter retained 0.018 kg ha-1 of SRP, 0.38 kg ha-1 of PP, 0.4 kg ha-1 of TP and 8.75 kg ha-1 of TSS from surface runoff at the ILD site. In contrast, although the filter at LON removed 37 kg ha-1 of TSS and 0.07 kg ha-1 of PP, it released 0.22 kg ha-1 of SRP and 0.15 kg ha-1 TP. A reduction in filter efficacy was observed over time, particularly at the site with greater cumulative surface runoff and larger runoff events (LON). The majority of the SRP retained by the filter was held in a loosely bound form, thus, susceptible to P remobilization. The results of this study demonstrate that low-cost, simple PSMs have some potential to retain P from surface runoff, but their efficacy may decline over time and their P retention capability may differ with site hydrology (e.g., runoff volumes and velocity) and P supply.
Preferential flow is prevalent in clay soil under both frozen and thawed conditions. Preferential flow dominates the infiltration regime under frozen soil conditions in silt loam. Subsurface placement of fertilizer can limit subsurface nutrient leaching. Subsurface placement is particularly effective in soil with abundant preferential flow. Subsurface placement is recommended for fall fertilizer application.
Supply and Transport Limitations on Phosphorus Losses from Agricultural Fields in the Lower Great Lakes Region, Canada
Janina M. Plach,
Merrin L. Macrae,
Tatianna M. Lozier,
I. P. O’Halloran,
Christopher J. Van Esbroeck
Journal of Environmental Quality, Volume 47, Issue 1
Phosphorus (P) mobilization in agricultural landscapes is regulated by both hydrologic (transport) and biogeochemical (supply) processes interacting within soils; however, the dominance of these controls can vary spatially and temporally. In this study, we analyzed a 5-yr dataset of stormflow events across nine agricultural fields in the lower Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, to determine if edge-of-field surface runoff and tile drainage losses (total and dissolved reactive P) were limited by transport mechanisms or P supply. Field sites ranged from clay loam, silt loam, to sandy loam textures. Findings indicate that biogeochemical processes (P supply) were more important for tile drain P loading patterns (i.e., variable flow-weighted mean concentrations () across a range of flow regimes) relative to surface runoff, which trended toward a more chemostatic or transport-limited response. At two sites with the same soil texture, higher tile  and greater transport limitations were apparent at the site with higher soil available P (STP); however, STP did not significantly correlate with tile  or P loading patterns across the nine sites. This may reflect that the fields were all within a narrow STP range and were not elevated in STP concentrations (Olsen-P, ≤25 mg kg). For the study sites where STP was maintained at reasonable concentrations, hydrology was less of a driving factor for tile P loadings, and thus management strategies that limit P supply may be an effective way to reduce P losses from fields (e.g., timing of fertilizer application).