Field scale phosphorus balances and legacy soil pressures in mixed-land use catchments

N.T. McDonald, D.P. Wall, P.E. Mellander, C. Buckley, M. Shore, G. Shortle, S. Leach, E. Burgess, T. O'Connell, P. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Reducing legacy soil phosphorus (P) is recognised as an effective measure to mitigate diffuse P losses from agricultural landscapes and alleviate trophic pressure to freshwaters systems. Accounting for the distribution of P within farms is critical in identifying fields of agronomic underperformance and/or environmental risk to water as a consequence of inadequately managed re-cycling of P. There is also a need to understand how P use and legacy soil P evolves under the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) regulations from the European Union (EU) Nitrates Directive. In an Irish case study the aim was to provide a systematic and detailed audit of P balance and soil P responses and trends in two mixed land use agricultural catchments (Arable A and B) across a four year study period. Driven by increased mineral P inputs the field balances in the Arable A catchment had an average surplus P, ranging from 1.9 to 7.5 kg ha−1 yr−1. However, between the study period 2010 to 2013, the average soil test P (STP) levels declined, with the area of excessive soil P concentrations decreasing by 8%. Similarly, in the Arable B catchment the average annual P inputs increased the surplus field P from -0.42 to 25.5 kg ha−1 yr−1, but the area of excessive soil P concentrations increased by 4%. In part, this increase is attributed to some fields receiving excess applications of organic nutrient forms above crop requirements. Whilst, the legacy soil P declined in the Arable A catchment indicating a response to NAP, for both catchments it is evident that the distribution of P sources within farms was poor and P inputs often did not match crop and soil P requirements at the field scale. This study highlights the need for improved support to knowledge transfer mechanisms that can deliver better farm and soil specific nutrient management planning strategies. Without this consideration, achieving the dual benefits of improvement to water quality and increased crop output from agricultural landscapes will be restricted.
LanguageEnglish
Pages14-23
Number of pages10
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume274
Early online date12 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019

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land use
catchment
phosphorus
soil
farm
nitrate
nitrates
crop
surpluses
farms
agricultural land
crops
agricultural catchment
nutrient
soil test
agricultural watersheds
audits
environmental risk
nutrient management
European Union

Keywords

  • Soil test phosphorus
  • Field balances
  • Fertilizer use
  • Agricultural catchment
  • Nutrient management

Cite this

McDonald, N. T., Wall, D. P., Mellander, P. E., Buckley, C., Shore, M., Shortle, G., ... Jordan, P. (2019). Field scale phosphorus balances and legacy soil pressures in mixed-land use catchments. 274, 14-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2018.12.014
McDonald, N.T. ; Wall, D.P. ; Mellander, P.E. ; Buckley, C. ; Shore, M. ; Shortle, G. ; Leach, S. ; Burgess, E. ; O'Connell, T. ; Jordan, P. / Field scale phosphorus balances and legacy soil pressures in mixed-land use catchments. 2019 ; Vol. 274. pp. 14-23.
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McDonald, NT, Wall, DP, Mellander, PE, Buckley, C, Shore, M, Shortle, G, Leach, S, Burgess, E, O'Connell, T & Jordan, P 2019, 'Field scale phosphorus balances and legacy soil pressures in mixed-land use catchments', vol. 274, pp. 14-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2018.12.014

Field scale phosphorus balances and legacy soil pressures in mixed-land use catchments. / McDonald, N.T.; Wall, D.P.; Mellander, P.E.; Buckley, C.; Shore, M.; Shortle, G.; Leach, S.; Burgess, E.; O'Connell, T.; Jordan, P.

Vol. 274, 15.03.2019, p. 14-23.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - McDonald, N.T.

AU - Wall, D.P.

AU - Mellander, P.E.

AU - Buckley, C.

AU - Shore, M.

AU - Shortle, G.

AU - Leach, S.

AU - Burgess, E.

AU - O'Connell, T.

AU - Jordan, P.

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McDonald NT, Wall DP, Mellander PE, Buckley C, Shore M, Shortle G et al. Field scale phosphorus balances and legacy soil pressures in mixed-land use catchments. 2019 Mar 15;274:14-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2018.12.014