Influence of feedlot manure on reactive phosphorus in rainfall runoff during the transition from continuous to legacy phases


Miller, J.J., Beasley, B.W., Owen, M.L., Drury, C.F., Chanasyk, D.S. (2021). Influence of feedlot manure on reactive phosphorus in rainfall runoff during the transition from continuous to legacy phases. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, [online] 101(2), 277-289.

Plain language summary

Feedlot producers shifting from land application of more traditional stockpiled (SM) feedlot
manure to less common composted manure (CM), or from more common straw (ST) to wood-chip (WD) bedding, will likely encounter similar lower phosphorus losses between manure types and bedding in most years. A similar result will likely occur with a shift from more common SM-ST to SM-WD, CM-ST, or CM-WD manure type–bedding combinations. A shift by producers to lower application rates such as 13 Mg ha-1 (dry wt.) will likely reduce phosphorus loss in most years. Feedlot producers shifting from long-term annual applications of feedlot manure to discontinued applications for three years may encounter significant manure type, bedding, and application rate effects in both the continuous and legacy periods. Long-term manure application significantly increased phosphorus loss for amended treatments compared to unamended control or mineral fertilizer treatments, even in the first legacy year.


Little research has compared land application of stockpiled (SM) or composted (CM) beef feedlot manure with straw (ST) or wood-chip (WD) bedding on loss of reactive phosphorus (RP) in runoff. We conducted a 6 yr (2013-2018) rainfall simulation-runoff study and utilized surface (0-5 cm) soil collected from a long-term (since 1998) field experiment on a clay loam soil in southern Alberta, Canada. The treatments consisted of SM or CM with ST or WD bedding applied at 13, 39, and 77 Mg ha-1 (dry weight), as well as an unamended control and mineral fertilizer treatment. Surface soil was collected from all treatments after 15-17 (C15, C16, C17; 2013-2015) continual annual applications, and then 1-3 yr (L1-L3, 2016-2018) into the legacy phase after manure applications were first discontinued in 2015. The soil was packed into runoff trays, and flow-weighted mean concentrations (FWMCs) and mass loads of RP5 (<5 pm filter) in runoff water were determined during rainfall simulations. Our findings generally supported our null hypothesis of similar RP5 losses for manure type (CM = SM) and bedding (ST = WD) for most years. Successively higher application rates increased RP5 loss by 32%-121%. Termination of long-term applications dramatically reduced FWMCs by 58%-77% and mass loss by 56%-65% from the C17 to L3 years. This suggests an accumulation of soil P during continuous phase and depletion during legacy phase; therefore, lower application rates or termination of applications may reduce RP5 loss in runoff.

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