Solid cattle manure less prone to phosphorus loss in tile drainage water


Wang, Y.T., Zhang, T.Q., Tan, C.S., Qi, Z.M., Welacky, T. (2018). Solid cattle manure less prone to phosphorus loss in tile drainage water. Journal of Environmental Quality, [online] 47(2), 318-325.

Plain language summary

Agricultural land application is a predominate mean for deposition of animal manures, which not only provide crops with nutrients, but also add wealthy organic matter to soils. The form in which manure is present (e.g., liquid or solid) plays a significant role in how phosphorus behaves in soils. A particularly important property of phosphorus in soils is its potential to be picked up by rainwater or snowmelt, as excess phosphorus can end up in streams and lakes. This excess phosphorus can cause severe environmental damage through harmful algal blooms and eutrophication of water resources. Accordingly, this paper assessed the effects of various forms of cattle manure application (liquid and solid) on soil phosphorus tile drainage loss and compared it to inorganic phosphorus fertilizer. The results of this study demonstrated that the phosphorus contained in solid cattle manure is less prone to being picked up by rainwater or snowmelt compared to the phosphorus contained in liquid cattle manure or inorganic phosphorus fertilizer. It can be recommended that solid cattle manure is a more environmentally friendly source of phosphorus to agricultural soils than liquid cattle manure. Ultimately, finding effective manure application strategies will lead to improved crop growth and reduced soil phosphorus losses.


Forms (e.g., liquid and solid) of manure influence the risk of P loss after land application. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of P-based application of various forms of cattle manure (liquid, LCM; or solid, SCM) or inorganic P as triple superphosphate (IP) on soil P losses in tile drainage water. A 4-yr field experiment was conducted in a clay loam soil with a corn (Zea mays L.)-soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation in the Lake Erie basin. Over the 4 yr, the dissolved reactive P (DRP) flow-weighted mean concentration (FWMC) in tile drainage water was greater under SCM fertilization than under either IP or LCM fertilization. Despite its lower value on an annual basis, DRP FWMC rose dramatically immediately after LCM application. However, the differences in DRP FWMC did not result in detectable differences in DRP loads. Regarding particulate P and total P losses during the 4 yr, they were 68 and 47%, respectively, lower in the soils amended with SCM than in those with IP, whereas both values were similar between IP and LCM treatments. Overall, the P contained in solid cattle manure was less prone to P loss after land application. Accordingly, the present results can provide a basis for manure storage and application of best management practices designed to reduce P losses and improve crop growth.

Publication date


Author profiles