Quantification of Phosphorus Loss From Soil To Water

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The economic implications of the ongoing deterioration of water quality due to eutrophication are important for several reasons including quality food production, the risk of lost tourism revenue, and degraded water resources. This is particularly so, when, on the other side of the cost benefit analysis, it is unlikely that there are any agronomic benefits in increasing soil P values above the current level on most soils. In the region of a quarter of the agricultural area of the country have soil P levels that would be considered excessive, and levels are increasing.

National river monitoring programmes over more than 25 years have revealed a steady increase in the extent of river eutrophication. This is of particular concern in Ireland because of the presence of salmon and trout in most rivers and lakes. This situation is almost unique in Europe. Irish rivers and lakes are generally classified as salmonid waters and these fish may be at risk due to increasing eutrophication.
A number of recent studies in Ireland have highlighted the importance of agricultural P losses, for example, the Lough Conn and the Lee-STRIDE studies. Recent Teagasc publications have shown that soil P is accumulating at about 40,000 tonnes P per annum, with a steadily increasing trend in soil P test values. Teagasc has recently revised the P nutrient advice for grassland and, partly as a result of this, farmers have reduced P inputs by about 10,000 tonnes P per year in 1998 compared with 1996.

Teagasc estimated a saving of £25m per annum to farmers, based on 1996 usage, by reducing artificial P fertiliser use.

Recent evidence, from two international P workshops, one at Johnstown Castle in 1995 and one in Antrim in 1998, indicates that P loss to water is related to a number of factors. One important influence is that the soil test P levels can show a direct relationship with P loss to water. The upward trend of soil P is of concern because small increases in lake or river P concentrations can result in significant eutrophication. Losses of the order of one kg P per ha per year or about 3 percent of agricultural inputs to a catchment may cause serious eutrophication. It is recognised that other sources of inputs, municipal, industrial and septic tanks also contribute to P loss. However, in many predominantly rural areas agricultural activity is a significant or the major contributor to P loss to water. The P losses from agriculture can come from a number of sources, farmyards, fields after spreading fertiliser and animal manures, and by losses from soils that have high soil test P levels. The increasing soil test P levels on some soils may have long-term implications for water quality, even when other sources of loss have been reduced. Though soil P desorption is only one of the possible sources of agricultural P losses to water, it is potentially the most intractable in the sense it may take many years to reduce high soil test P levels.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Hubert Tunney

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Att 1    R&D_94-99_Tunney_Phosphorus_in_Soils_syn.pdf   (0.4 Mb)

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Author(s)Tunney, H.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationQuantification of Phosphorus Loss From Soil To Water
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=5e3d99d8-1faf-102f-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c
Unique Identifier5e3d99d8-1faf-102f-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-06-17

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Tunney, H.   "Quantification of Phosphorus Loss From Soil To Water". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=5e3d99d8-1faf-102f-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c (Last Accessed: 2024-06-17)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=218
Resource KeywordsPhosphorus, desorption, agricultural grassland, Soil to Water
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code95_7_PD
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeLand-use, Soils, and Transport
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 1
Project Start Date Monday 1st April 1996 (01-04-1996)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 1st April 1996 (01-04-1996)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 21st December 1998 (21-12-1998)
Published on SAFERWednesday 24th August 2011 (24-08-2011)
Date of Last EditWednesday 24th August 2011 at 15:55:13 (24-08-2011)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 24th August 2011 at 15:55:13 (24-08-2011)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
The methods, results and discussion of the project are in five separate sections, 4.1) Phosphorus (P) export from agricultural grassland with overland flow and drainage water (Johnstown Castle); 4.2) Phosphorus export from farm in Dripsey catchment, Co. Cork (NMP); 4.3) Hydrometeorological aspects of farm in Dripsey Catchment (NMP); 4.4) Phosphorus desorption from Irish soils; 4.5) National phosphorus model. Most of the field and laboratory studies were carried out at Johnstown Castle, at UCC and the field site in the Dripsey catchment.

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
This project has been undertaken as part of the Environmental Monitoring, R&D subprogramme of the Operational Programme for Environmental Services, 1994-1999. It has been part financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund. The sub-programme is administered on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Local Government by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the statutory function of coordinating and promoting environmental research. The balance, of more than 50%, of the funding for the work described in this report was provided by Teagasc, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.
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