Nitrogen and phosphorus in runoff from grassland with buffer strips following application of fertilizers and manures



Abstract. We examined whether nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) export was enhanced from grassland receiving inorganic fertilizer and manures typical of intensive livestock production. Buffer strips were included in the study to determine if they could reduce nutrient export. Hillslope plots receiving granular inorganic fertilizer, liquid cattle slurry and solid cattle manure (FYM) were compared using rainfall simulation for 4 storms on consecutive days at 22 mm h-1 and 35 minutes duration. The plots were hydrologically isolated in a randomized block layout of 4 treatments × 3 replicates and measured 30 × 5m; the upper 20m received either fertilizer, slurry or FYM, while the lower 10 m acted as an unfertilized grass buffer strip. Nitrogen and P export in surface runoff from grassland receiving inorganic fertilizer exceeded that from FYM or slurry treatments; concentrations up to46mgN1--1 and 15 mgP1–1 were recorded.

Sixty eight % and 62% of the N from FYM and slurry respectively, was exported in organic form. Seventy four % (FYM) and 39% (slurry) of the P was in particulate or dissolved organic form. The buffer strip reduced N export in surface runoff by 94% and P export by 98% from inorganic fertilizer plots. A 75% reduction in N export was recorded from the buffer zone below slurry plots but only a 10% reduction in P, with most P remaining in the particulate or dissolved organic fraction. There was no significant difference in N export from the buffer zone between the inorganic fertilizer treatment and the untreated control.