Impacts of cover crops and crop residues on phosphorus losses in cold climates: a review
Peer Reviewed StatusNon-Peer Reviewed
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The use of plants in riparian buffers or cover crops is widely proposed as a strategy to mitigate sediment and nutrient losses from land to water. In cold climates, concerns may arise with regard to potentially elevated phosphorus (P) losses associated with freeze-thaw of plant materials. Here, we review the impacts of cover crops and crop residues on P loss in cold climates, and explore linkages between water extractable P in the plant materials and P loss in surface runoff and subsurface drainage from cropped soils. Water extractable P in plants is greatly affected by crop species and hardiness, as well as freezing regimes including both freezing temperature and the number of freeze-thaw cycles. Although controls on water extractable P in plant tissues and residues are relatively well understood, impacts on P runoff and leaching are inconsistent across studies due to the influences of soil, climate, and management factors. This review sheds light on improving winter crop cover management to minimize P losses from land to water in cold climates and points to future research needs. Specifically, more research is needed to understand interactions between soil, plant, hydrology, and management in influencing P loss, and to improve the assessment of crop contributions to P loss in field settings of cold climates. Further, the trade-offs between the concern over P and the control of sediment loss and nitrogen leaching should be acknowledged, as should the uncertainties of freezing and crop adaptability under future climate regimes.
Part OfSoils and Crops Workshop
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