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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Residual effects of compost and fertilizer applications on nutrients in runoff

Authors
item Gilley, John
item Eghball, Bahman

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 2002
Publication Date: November 15, 2002
Citation: Gilley, J.E., Eghball, B. 2002. Residual effects of compost and fertilizer applications on nutrients in runoff. Transactions of the ASABE. 45(6)1583:1588.

Interpretive Summary: The application of compost or fertilizer at rates that exceed crop nutrient requirement can result in the accumulation of phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil. This study was conducted to determine the influence of soil nutrient content on the transport of phosphorus and nitrogen in runoff. Composted beef cattle feedlot manure or inorganic fertilizer were added from 1992 to 1995 to a soil in southeast Nebraska at rates required to meet nutrient requirements for corn, and incorporated following application. After four years of corn production following the last compost application, the concentration of phosphorus in the surface soil was still significantly greater than the check plots. Simulated rainfall was applied to the experimental site in 2000. The amount of phosphorus and nitrogen transported in runoff was similar on the compost and inorganic fertilizer plots. Covering approximately 50% of the soil surface with corn residue did not significantly affect nutrient transport in runoff when compared to the no-residue condition. Factors other than soil P content appear to influence P loss in runoff for the bare soil used in this investigation.

Technical Abstract: The application of compost or fertilizer at rates that exceed crop nutrient requirements can result in phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) accumulation in soil. This study was conducted to determine the influence of soil P and N contents on the concentrations and total amounts of P and N transported in runoff. Composted beef cattle feedlot manure or inorganic fertilizer were added from 1992 to 1995 to a Sharpsburg silty clay loam soil at rates sufficient to meet P or N requirements for corn and incorporated following application. After four years of corn production following the last compost application, P concentration, EC and pH of the surface soils on the N-based compost treatments were significantly greater than the check plots. Simulated rainfall was applied to the experimental site in 2000. Concentrations and total amounts of P and N in runoff were similar on the compost and inorganic fertilizer plots. The application of corn residue at a rate of 6 Mg ha-1 did not significantly affect the nutrient concentration of runoff or total nutrient transport when compared to a no-residue condition. On an adjoining field, compost or inorganic fertilizer were applied at rates in excess of crop P and N requirements to increase soil P levels. For soil P levels ranging from 42 to 267 mg kg -1, the dissolved P (DP) concentration of runoff did not correlate well with soil P. Thus, factors other than soil P concentration appear to influence P loss in runoff for the bare soil used in this investigation.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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