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Tile drainage phosphorus loss with long-term consistent cropping systems and fertilization

Zhang, T.Q., Tan, C.S., Zheng, Z.M., Drury, C.F. (2015). Tile drainage phosphorus loss with long-term consistent cropping systems and fertilization, 44(2), 503-511.


© American Society of Agronomy. Phosphorus (P) loss in tile drainage water may vary with agricultural practices, and the impacts are often hard to detect with short-term studies. We evaluated the effects of long-term (≥43 yr) cropping systems (continuous corn [CC], corn-oats-alfalfa- alfalfa rotation [CR], and continuous grass [CS]) and fertilization (fertilization [F] vs. no-fertilization [NF]) on P loss in tile drainage water from a clay loam soil over a 4-yr period. Compared with NF, long-term fertilization increased concentrations and losses of dissolved reactive P (DRP), dissolved unreactive P (DURP), and total P (TP) in tile drainage water, with the increments following the order: CS > CR > CC. Dissolved P (dissolved reactive P [DRP] and dissolved unreactive P [DURP]) was the dominant P form in drainage outflow, accounting for 72% of TP loss under F-CS, whereas particulate P (PP) was the major form of TP loss under F-CC (72%), F-CR (62%), NF-CS (66%), NF-CC (74%), and NF-CR (72%). Dissolved unreactive P played nearly equal roles as DRP in P losses in tile drainage water. Stepwise regression analysis showed that the concentration of P (DRP, DURP, and PP) in tile drainage flow, rather than event flow volume, was the most important factor contributing to P loss in tile drainage water, although event flow volume was more important in PP loss than in dissolved P loss. Continuous grass significantly increased P loss by increasing P concentration and flow volume of tile drainage water, especially under the fertilization treatment. Long-term grasslands may become a significant P source in tile-drained systems when they receive regular P addition.

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