Incidental phosphorus and nitrogen loss from grassland plots receiving chemically amended dairy cattle slurry.
Brennan, Raymond B.
Healy, Mark G.
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Brennan, R.B., Healy, M.G., Grant, J., Ibrahim, T.G., Fenton, O. (2012) 'Incidental phosphorus and nitrogen loss from grassland plots receiving chemically amended dairy cattle slurry'. Science Of The Total Environment, 441 :132-140.
Chemical amendment of dairy cattle slurry has been shown to effectively reduce incidental phosphorus (P) losses in runoff; however, the effects of amendments on incidental nitrogen (N) losses are not as well documented. This study examined P and N losses in runoff during three simulated rainfall events 2, 10 and 28 days after a single application of unamended/chemically amended dairy cattle slurry. Twenty-five hydraulically isolated plots, each measuring 0.9 m by 0.4 m and instrumented with runoff collection channels, were randomly assigned the following treatments: (i) grass-only, (ii) slurry-only (the study-control), (iii) slurry amended with industrial grade liquid alum comprising 8% Al2O3, (iv) slurry amended with industrial grade liquid poly-aluminum chloride (PAC) comprising 10% Al2O3, and (v) slurry amended with lime. During the first rainfall event, lime was ineffective but alum and PAC effectively reduced dissolved reactive P (DRP) (by 95 and 98%, respectively) and total P (TP) flow-weighted-mean-concentrations (by 82 and 93%, respectively) in runoff compared to the study-control. However, flow-weighted-mean-concentrations of ammonium-N (NH4-N) in runoff were increased with alum- (81%) and lime-treated (11%) slurry compared to the study-control whereas PAC reduced the NH4-N by 82%. Amendments were not observed to have a significant effect on NO3-N losses during this study. Slurry amendments reduced P losses for the duration of the study, whereas the effect of amendments on N losses was not significant following the first event. Antecedent volumetric water content of the soil or slope of the plots did not appear to affect runoff volume. However, runoff volumes (and consequently loads of P and N) were observed to increase for the chemically amended plots compared to the control and soil-only plots. This work highlights the importance of considering both P and N losses when implementing a specific nutrient mitigation measure.
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