Variable response to phosphorus mitigation measures across the nutrient transfer continuum in a dairy grassland catchment

P.N.C. Murphy, P.-E. Mellander, A.R. Melland, C. Buckley, M. Shore, G. Shortle, D.P. Wall, M. Treacy, O. Shine, S. Mechan, P. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Phosphorus (P) loss from soils to water can be a major pressure on freshwater quality and dairy farming, with higher animal stocking rates, may lead to potentially greater nutrient source pressures. In many countries with intensive agriculture, regulation of P management aims to minimise these losses. This study examined the P transfer continuum, from source to impact, in a dairy-dominated, highly stocked, grassland catchment with free-draining soils over three years. The aim was to measure the effects of P source management and regulation on P transfer across the nutrient transfer continuum and subsequent water quality and agro-economic impacts. Reduced P source pressure was indicated by: (a) lower average farm-gate P balances (2.4 kg ha−1 yr−1), higher P use efficiencies (89%) and lower inorganic fertilizer P use (5.2 kg ha−1 yr−1) relative to previous studies; (b) almost no recorded P application during the winter closed period, when applications were prohibited, to avoid incidental transfers; and (c) decreased proportions of soils with excessive P concentrations (32–24%). Concurrently, production and profitability remained comparable with the top 10% of dairy farmers nationally with milk outputs of 14,585 l ha−1, and gross margins of € 3130 ha−1. Whilst there was some indication of a response in P delivery in surface water with declines in quick flow and interflow pathway P concentrations during the winter closed period for P application, delayed baseflows in the wetter third year resulted in elevated P concentrations for long durations and there were no clear trends of improving stream biological quality. This suggests a variable response to policy measures between P source pressure and delivery/impact where the strength of any observable trend is greater closer to the source end of the nutrient transfer continuum and a time lag occurs at the other end. Policy monitoring and assessment efforts will need to be cognisant of this.
LanguageEnglish
Pages192 - 202
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume207
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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pollution control
dairies
grasslands
phosphorus
nutrients
losses from soil
intensive farming
subsurface flow
winter
economic impact
strength (mechanics)
mineral fertilizers
stocking rate
dairy farming
profitability
soil
surface water
water quality
farmers
milk

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Murphy, P.N.C. ; Mellander, P.-E. ; Melland, A.R. ; Buckley, C. ; Shore, M. ; Shortle, G. ; Wall, D.P. ; Treacy, M. ; Shine, O. ; Mechan, S. ; Jordan, P. / Variable response to phosphorus mitigation measures across the nutrient transfer continuum in a dairy grassland catchment. In: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 2015 ; Vol. 207. pp. 192 - 202.
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abstract = "Phosphorus (P) loss from soils to water can be a major pressure on freshwater quality and dairy farming, with higher animal stocking rates, may lead to potentially greater nutrient source pressures. In many countries with intensive agriculture, regulation of P management aims to minimise these losses. This study examined the P transfer continuum, from source to impact, in a dairy-dominated, highly stocked, grassland catchment with free-draining soils over three years. The aim was to measure the effects of P source management and regulation on P transfer across the nutrient transfer continuum and subsequent water quality and agro-economic impacts. Reduced P source pressure was indicated by: (a) lower average farm-gate P balances (2.4 kg ha−1 yr−1), higher P use efficiencies (89{\%}) and lower inorganic fertilizer P use (5.2 kg ha−1 yr−1) relative to previous studies; (b) almost no recorded P application during the winter closed period, when applications were prohibited, to avoid incidental transfers; and (c) decreased proportions of soils with excessive P concentrations (32–24{\%}). Concurrently, production and profitability remained comparable with the top 10{\%} of dairy farmers nationally with milk outputs of 14,585 l ha−1, and gross margins of € 3130 ha−1. Whilst there was some indication of a response in P delivery in surface water with declines in quick flow and interflow pathway P concentrations during the winter closed period for P application, delayed baseflows in the wetter third year resulted in elevated P concentrations for long durations and there were no clear trends of improving stream biological quality. This suggests a variable response to policy measures between P source pressure and delivery/impact where the strength of any observable trend is greater closer to the source end of the nutrient transfer continuum and a time lag occurs at the other end. Policy monitoring and assessment efforts will need to be cognisant of this.",
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Murphy, PNC, Mellander, P-E, Melland, AR, Buckley, C, Shore, M, Shortle, G, Wall, DP, Treacy, M, Shine, O, Mechan, S & Jordan, P 2015, 'Variable response to phosphorus mitigation measures across the nutrient transfer continuum in a dairy grassland catchment', Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, vol. 207, pp. 192 - 202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2015.04.008

Variable response to phosphorus mitigation measures across the nutrient transfer continuum in a dairy grassland catchment. / Murphy, P.N.C.; Mellander, P.-E.; Melland, A.R.; Buckley, C.; Shore, M.; Shortle, G.; Wall, D.P.; Treacy, M.; Shine, O.; Mechan, S.; Jordan, P.

In: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, Vol. 207, 2015, p. 192 - 202.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Variable response to phosphorus mitigation measures across the nutrient transfer continuum in a dairy grassland catchment

AU - Murphy, P.N.C.

AU - Mellander, P.-E.

AU - Melland, A.R.

AU - Buckley, C.

AU - Shore, M.

AU - Shortle, G.

AU - Wall, D.P.

AU - Treacy, M.

AU - Shine, O.

AU - Mechan, S.

AU - Jordan, P.

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - Phosphorus (P) loss from soils to water can be a major pressure on freshwater quality and dairy farming, with higher animal stocking rates, may lead to potentially greater nutrient source pressures. In many countries with intensive agriculture, regulation of P management aims to minimise these losses. This study examined the P transfer continuum, from source to impact, in a dairy-dominated, highly stocked, grassland catchment with free-draining soils over three years. The aim was to measure the effects of P source management and regulation on P transfer across the nutrient transfer continuum and subsequent water quality and agro-economic impacts. Reduced P source pressure was indicated by: (a) lower average farm-gate P balances (2.4 kg ha−1 yr−1), higher P use efficiencies (89%) and lower inorganic fertilizer P use (5.2 kg ha−1 yr−1) relative to previous studies; (b) almost no recorded P application during the winter closed period, when applications were prohibited, to avoid incidental transfers; and (c) decreased proportions of soils with excessive P concentrations (32–24%). Concurrently, production and profitability remained comparable with the top 10% of dairy farmers nationally with milk outputs of 14,585 l ha−1, and gross margins of € 3130 ha−1. Whilst there was some indication of a response in P delivery in surface water with declines in quick flow and interflow pathway P concentrations during the winter closed period for P application, delayed baseflows in the wetter third year resulted in elevated P concentrations for long durations and there were no clear trends of improving stream biological quality. This suggests a variable response to policy measures between P source pressure and delivery/impact where the strength of any observable trend is greater closer to the source end of the nutrient transfer continuum and a time lag occurs at the other end. Policy monitoring and assessment efforts will need to be cognisant of this.

AB - Phosphorus (P) loss from soils to water can be a major pressure on freshwater quality and dairy farming, with higher animal stocking rates, may lead to potentially greater nutrient source pressures. In many countries with intensive agriculture, regulation of P management aims to minimise these losses. This study examined the P transfer continuum, from source to impact, in a dairy-dominated, highly stocked, grassland catchment with free-draining soils over three years. The aim was to measure the effects of P source management and regulation on P transfer across the nutrient transfer continuum and subsequent water quality and agro-economic impacts. Reduced P source pressure was indicated by: (a) lower average farm-gate P balances (2.4 kg ha−1 yr−1), higher P use efficiencies (89%) and lower inorganic fertilizer P use (5.2 kg ha−1 yr−1) relative to previous studies; (b) almost no recorded P application during the winter closed period, when applications were prohibited, to avoid incidental transfers; and (c) decreased proportions of soils with excessive P concentrations (32–24%). Concurrently, production and profitability remained comparable with the top 10% of dairy farmers nationally with milk outputs of 14,585 l ha−1, and gross margins of € 3130 ha−1. Whilst there was some indication of a response in P delivery in surface water with declines in quick flow and interflow pathway P concentrations during the winter closed period for P application, delayed baseflows in the wetter third year resulted in elevated P concentrations for long durations and there were no clear trends of improving stream biological quality. This suggests a variable response to policy measures between P source pressure and delivery/impact where the strength of any observable trend is greater closer to the source end of the nutrient transfer continuum and a time lag occurs at the other end. Policy monitoring and assessment efforts will need to be cognisant of this.

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