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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Groundwater Pollution by Phosphorus Fertilizers

Author
item Eghball, Bahman

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soil Science
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2002
Publication Date: February 1, 2003
Citation: EGHBALL, B. GROUNDWATER POLLUTION BY PHOSPHORUS FERTILIZERS. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SOIL SCIENCE. P. 374-375. 2003.

Interpretive Summary: Phosphorus (P) is a primary nutrient necessary for plant growth. When soil P level is below what is needed for plant needs, P is supplied to the soil by the addition of P fertilizer or organic residuals (i.e., manure). Because of P fertilizer use in the past few decades or application of manure, a greater portion of the soils in each state in the United States have soil test P levels that exceed the critical level for plant growth. High loading rates and/or repeated application of P fertilizer can result in P accumulation in soil. This P is then subject to leaching loss or transport in surface runoff either in soluble or in particulate (sediment-bound) forms. Phosphorus that is moving downward in the soil profile can eventually reach the ground water, especially in areas with shallow or perched groundwater. Phosphorus moving downward in the soil may also be intercepted by artificial drainage systems (i.e. tile drains) that are located within 1 to 2 m from the soil surface.

Technical Abstract: Phosphorus (P) is a primary nutrient necessary for plant growth. When soil P level is below what is needed for plant needs, P is supplied to the soil by the addition of P fertilizer or organic residuals (i.e., manure). Because of P fertilizer use in the past few decades or application of manure, a greater portion of the soils in each state in the United States have soil test P levels that exceed the critical level for plant growth. High loading rates and/or repeated application of P fertilizer can result in P accumulation in soil. This P is then subject to leaching loss or transport in surface runoff either in soluble or in particulate (sediment-bound) forms. Phosphorus that is moving downward in the soil profile can eventually reach the ground water, especially in areas with shallow or perched groundwater. Phosphorus moving downward in the soil may also be intercepted by artificial drainage systems (i.e. tile drains) that are located within 1 to 2 m from the soil surface.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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