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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331979

Research Project: ENHANCED MODELS AND CONSERVATION PRACTICES FOR WATERSHED RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND ASSESSMENT

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Guiding phosphorus stewardship for multiple ecosystem services

Author
item Macdonald, Graham - McGill University - Canada
item Jarvie, Helen - Centre For Ecology And Hydrology
item Withers, Paul - Bangor University
item Doody, Donnacaha - Agri-Food And Biosciences Institute
item Keeler, Bonnie - University Of Minnesota
item Haygarth, Philip - Lancaster University
item Johnson, Laura - Heidelberg University
item Mcdowell, Richard - Lincoln University - New Zealand
item Miyittah, Michael - University Of Cape Coast
item Powers, Stephen - Washington State University
item Sharpley, Andrew - University Of Arkansas
item Shen, Jianbo - China Agricultural University
item Smith, Douglas
item Weintraub, Michael - University Of Toledo
item Zhang, Tiequan - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada

Submitted to: Ecosystem Health and Sustainability
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/30/2016
Publication Date: 12/21/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5852158
Citation: MacDonald, G.K., Jarvie, H.P., Withers, P.J., Doody, D.G., Keeler, B.L., Haygarth, P.M., Johnson, L.T., McDowell, R.W., Miyittah, M.K., Powers, S.M., Sharpley, A.N., Shen, J., Smith, D.R., Weintraub, M.N., Zhang, T. 2016. Guiding phosphorus stewardship for multiple ecosystem services. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability. 2(12):e01251. doi:10.1002/ehs2.1251.

Interpretive Summary: Managing phosphorus for agriculture is often viewed as important to ensuring maximum productivity. However, this can lead to degrading downstream water quality, among other detrimental impacts. In this paper, we propose the “Phosphorus-Ecosystem Services Cascade” to integrate how phosphorus directly or indirectly regulates other ecosystem services, including agricultural, soil and aquatic processes. Key interdisciplinary research gaps were identified, including incorporation of additional exosystem services into agri-environmental phosphorus indices, assessing how widespread recycling of organic phosphorus sources could differentially impact agricultural yields and water quality, and accounting for shifting baselines in phosphorus stewardship due to climate change. Ultimately, phosphorus impacts are site-specific, relying on agricultural and biogeophysical (soils, minerology, landscape position, etc.) contexts. Greater precision in targeting phosphorus stewardship strategies to specific locations will aid in optimizing ecosystem services and to more effectively internalize the downstream impacts of farm nutrient management.

Technical Abstract: Phosphorus is vital to agricultural production and water quality regulation. While the role of phosphorus in agriculture and water quality has been studied for decades, the benefits of sustainable phosphorus use and management for society due to its downstream impacts on multiple ecosystem services is rarely acknowledged. We propose a conceptual framework—the ‘Phosphorus-Ecosystem Services Cascade’ to integrate the key ecosystem processes and functions that moderate the relationship between phosphorus and ecosystem services at distinct spatial and temporal scales. Indirect pathways in the cascade via soil and aquatic processes link phosphorus to multiple services, including recreation, drinking water provision, fisheries, and biodiversity. Phosphorus stewardship can encompass further ecosystem service co-benefits due to synergies with other societal or management goals (e.g., recycling of livestock manures and organic wastes in agriculture could impact soil carbon storage). Applying the ‘Phosphorus-Ecosystem Services Cascade’ framework, we identify key interdisciplinary research directions to more explicitly align phosphorus stewardship to the management of multiple ecosystem services. Research priorities include the incorporation of additional ecosystem services into agri-environmental phosphorus indices, assessing how widespread recycling of organic phosphorus sources could differentially impact agricultural yields and water quality, and accounting for shifting baselines of phosphorus stewardship due to climate change. Ultimately, phosphorus impacts depend on site-specific agricultural and biogeophysical contexts, so greater precision in targeting stewardship strategies to specific locations would help to optimize for ecosystem services and to more effectively internalize downstream impacts in farm nutrient management.