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Phosphorus transport in subsurface flow from a stony soil under irrigated and non-irrigated lucerne

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 21:50 authored by Colin Gray, Richard McDowell, Graham Scott, John Hunt, Johannes Laubach, Grahame Rogers, Sam Carrick, David Whitehead
The extent of diffuse loss of phosphorus (P) from soils under deep rooting forage crops such as lucerne are currently unknown. This study used large (2.0 m by 1.5 m) monolith lysimeters to quantify the amounts and forms of P in drainage under lucerne from two sites, a non-irrigated dairy system and an irrigated dairy system that also received farm dairy effluent (FDE). Results showed that despite greater P inputs to the irrigated site compared to the non-irrigated site, there was no difference in total P concentrations in drainage. There were also no differences in the forms of P lost between sites, which were dominated by particulate P (48 to 52 %). More P was lost from the irrigated site (0.262 kg ha-1) than the non-irrigated site (0.164 kg ha-1). This larger P loss was a result of irrigation producing more drainage (42 %) than observed at the non-irrigated site. The amount and forms of P lost from lucerne were similar to or lower than losses reported for stony soils under grass-based pasture swards amended with P fertiliser and FDE. Because P leaching was regulated by drainage volume rather than P input, management of irrigation water to reduce drainage from the root zone will likely help minimise P leaching.


Rights statement

© 2020 The Royal Society of New Zealand


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No


Taylor & Francis Group

Journal title

New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research




Gray, C. W., McDowell, R. W., Graham, S. L., Hunt, J. E., Laubach, J., Rogers, G. N. D., … Whitehead, D. (2021). Phosphorus transport in subsurface flow from a stony soil under irrigated and non-irrigated lucerne. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 64(3), 429-443. doi:10.1080/00288233.2020.1792514

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