Open Access Open Badges Research

Phosphorus leaching from loamy sand and clay loam topsoils after application of pig slurry

Jian Liu1*, Helena Aronsson1, Lars Bergström1 and Andrew Sharpley2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7014, 75651, Uppsala, Sweden

2 Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, 72701, USA

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SpringerPlus 2012, 1:53  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-1-53

Published: 28 November 2012


Appropriate management of animal waste is essential for guaranteeing good water quality. A laboratory leaching study with intact soil columns was performed to investigate the risk of phosphorus (P) leaching from a clay loam and a loamy sand. The columns (0.2 m deep) were irrigated before and after application of pig slurry on the surface or after incorporation, or application of mineral P, each at a rate of 30 kg P ha-1. The two soils had different initial P contents (i.e. the ammonium lactate-extractable P was 65 and 142 mg kg-1 for the clay loam and loamy sand, respectively), but had similar P sorption characteristics (P sorption index 3.0) and degree of P saturation (17-21%). Concentrations of dissolved reactive P (DRP) and total P (TP) before P application were significantly higher in leachate from the loamy sand (TP 0.21 mg L-1) than from the clay loam (TP 0.13 mg L-1), but only increased significantly after P application to the clay loam. The highest concentrations were found when slurry was surface-applied (DRP 1.77 mg L-1), while incorporation decreased the DRP concentration by 64% in the clay loam. Thus moderate slurry application to a sandy soil with low P saturation did not pose a major risk of P leaching. However, application of P increased the risk of P leaching from the clay loam, irrespective of application method and despite low P saturation. The results show the importance of considering soil texture and structure in addition to soil chemical characteristics in risk assessments of P leaching. Structured soils such as the clay loam used in this study are high risk soils and application of P to bare soil during wet periods, e.g. in autumn or spring, should be followed by incorporation or avoided completely.

Intact topsoil column; Manure management; Mineral fertilizer; Phosphorus leaching; Phosphorus loss; Pig slurry; Slurry incorporation