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Surface runoff ‘principle source’ of phosphorus loss in Scotland, drains also contribute: study


April 4, 2022
By Drainage Contractor

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A recent study by researchers from the Scotland Rural College (SRUC) found that surface runoff and erosion and the principle sources of phosphorus loss in arable soils. However, phosphorus loss through drains is also a “key pathway,” particularly in improved grasslands on soils with artificial drainage.

The research was funded by Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) and carried out in partnership with the James Hutton Institute. It focused on Scotland and reviewed the scale and extent to which various transport mechanisms lead to nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, as well as different exacerbating factors such as soil compaction, structural degradation and the role of tramlines for farm machinery. The researchers also identified knowledge gaps for future research such as the need to quantify diffuse pollution from field “hotspots.”

The report recommends options for mitigating soil erosion and nutrient losses through options such as the use of a fertilizer plan linked to soil sampling for nutrient sampling and soil pH.

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