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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #187103


item Penn, Chad
item Bryant, Ray

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2006
Publication Date: 9/21/2006
Citation: Penn, C.J., Bryant, R.B. 2006. Application of phosphorus sorbing materials to cattle loafing areas. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 61:303-310.

Interpretive Summary: Dairy cattle loafing areas located in close proximity to both a barn and stream can potentially contribute phosphorus (P) to surface waters. A potential remedy for such high risk areas is to amend soils with P-sorbing materials such as aluminum sulfate (alum) and various industrial waste by-products such as gypsum, fly-ash, and water treatment residuals, since these materials have been shown to reduce water soluble P concentrations in soils. In this study, 1 m by 2 m runoff plots located on three different Amish farms in Lancaster, PA were amended with P-sorbing materials. Simulated rainfall was applied at one week (time 1) and again at four weeks (time 2) after amendment. Runoff was analyzed for dissolved P and total P. In comparison with pre-amended runoff P concentrations and to a control plot, all amendments significantly reduced runoff dissolved P and total P after one week on two of the three sites, but there were no significant runoff P reductions for any site after four weeks. Although effects appear to be temporary, this initial reduction in runoff dissolved P concentrations from amended soils could possibly be improved if combined with other best management practices such as grass riparian strips or other practices that minimize erosion of soil and P-sorbing materials.

Technical Abstract: Excessive soil phosphorus (P) concentrations among cattle loafing areas located in close proximity to surface waters represent great potential for P transport. The purpose of this study was to assess the ability of several P sorbing materials (PSMs) in reducing P losses from streamside cattle loafing areas. Simulated rainfall was applied at 7 (time 1) and 28 (time 2) d after PSM applications to runoff plots on cattle loafing areas located at Amish farms. Treatments consisted of alum, water treatment residuals (WTRs), fly-ash, gypsum, and no amendment (control). Alum addition reduced time 1 runoff P concentrations the most followed by WTRs ~ gypsum, then fly-ash. However, runoff P losses from PSMs were not significantly different from the control at time 2. These results suggest that PSMs alone provide only a temporary solution to P losses from cattle loafing areas, and suggests that the use of soil amendments in combination with other best management practices may enhance their effectiveness.