Special Issue "Challenges and Successes in Identifying the Transfer and Transformation of Phosphorus from Soils to Open Waters and Sediments"

A special issue of Soil Systems (ISSN 2571-8789).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Donald S. Ross
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA
Interests: soil chemistry; phosphorus; hydropedology
Dr. Eric O. Young
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
USDA-ARS, Institute for Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management
Interests: phosphorus biogeochemistry; soil nutrient management; water quality
Dr. Deb P Jaisi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Interests: phosphorus biogeochemistry; isotope chemistry; advanced instrumentations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Anthropogenic loading of phosphorus to water bodies continues to increase worldwide, in many cases leading to increased eutrophication and harmful algal blooms. Determining the sources of phosphorus and biogeochemical processes responsible for this increase is often difficult because of complexity on inputs and pathways, which vary both in spatial and temporal scales. In order to effectively develop strategies to improve water quality, it is essential to develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship of P pools with biological uptake and cycling under varied soil and water conditions. A wide variety of processes, including changes in phosphorus speciation, transformations between organic and inorganic species, and transfer between biotic and abiotic forms, occur along the route from soils to open waters and to sediments until ultimate burial, and together increase the complexity of quantifying processes, cycling, or tracing sources. In addition, climate-change-related effects and feedback thereof often exacerbate a number of processes, including redox-mediated release of legacy phosphorus in sediments.

We invite papers that address the topic of soil P processes involving transfer and transformation across the landscape, either presenting novel research methods or synergy among non-traditional research fields, a review of existing successes and failures with underlying causes, or data-driven recommendations on the various approaches necessary to mitigate P loss and achieve the tangible goal of improving water quality.

Dr. Donald S. Ross
Dr. Eric O. Young
Dr. Deb P Jaisi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Soil Systems is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • phosphorus speciation
  • eutrophication
  • phosphorus mobility
  • bioavailable and recalcitrant phosphorus
  • phosphorus pools
  • legacy P and quantitation

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Challenges and Successes in Identifying the Transfer and Transformation of Phosphorus from Soils to Open Waters and Sediments
Soil Syst. 2021, 5(4), 65; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems5040065 - 19 Oct 2021
Viewed by 225
Abstract
The anthropogenic loading of phosphorus (P) to water bodies continues to increase worldwide, in many cases leading to increased eutrophication and harmful algal blooms [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Single and Binary Fe- and Al-hydroxides Affect Potential Phosphorus Mobilization and Transfer from Pools of Different Availability
Soil Syst. 2021, 5(2), 33; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems5020033 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 627
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) fixation is a global problem for soil fertility and negatively impacts agricultural productivity. This study characterizes P desorption of already fixed P by using KCl, KNO3, histidine, and malic acid as inorganic and organic compounds, which are quite common [...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) fixation is a global problem for soil fertility and negatively impacts agricultural productivity. This study characterizes P desorption of already fixed P by using KCl, KNO3, histidine, and malic acid as inorganic and organic compounds, which are quite common in soil. Goethite, gibbsite, and ferrihydrite, as well as hydroxide mixtures with varying Fe- and Al-ratio were selected as model substances of crystalline and amorphous Fe- and Al-hydroxides. Especially two- and multi-component hydroxide systems are common in soils, but they have barely been included in desorption studies. Goethite showed the highest desorption in the range from 70.4 to 81.0%, followed by gibbsite with values in the range from 50.7 to 42.6%. Ferrihydrite had distinctive lower desorption in the range from 11.8 to 1.9%. Within the group of the amorphous Fe-Al-hydroxide mixtures, P desorption was lowest at the balanced mixture ratio for 1 Fe: 1 Al, increased either with increasing Fe or Al amount. Precipitation and steric effects were concluded to be important influencing factors. More P was released by crystalline Fe-hydroxides, and Al-hydroxides of varying crystallinity, but desorption using histidine and malic acid did not substantially influence P desorption compared to inorganic constituents. Full article
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Article
Influence of Soil and Manure Management Practices on Surface Runoff Phosphorus and Nitrogen Loss in a Corn Silage Production System: A Paired Watershed Approach
Soil Syst. 2021, 5(1), 1; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems5010001 - 29 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1159
Abstract
Best management practices (BMPs) can mitigate erosion and nutrient runoff. We evaluated runoff losses for silage corn management systems using paired watershed fields in central Wisconsin. A two-year calibration period of fall-applied liquid dairy manure incorporated with chisel plow tillage (FMT) was followed [...] Read more.
Best management practices (BMPs) can mitigate erosion and nutrient runoff. We evaluated runoff losses for silage corn management systems using paired watershed fields in central Wisconsin. A two-year calibration period of fall-applied liquid dairy manure incorporated with chisel plow tillage (FMT) was followed by a three and a half-year treatment period. During the treatment period FMT was continued on one field, and three different systems on the others: (a) fall-applied manure and chisel tillage plus a vegetative buffer strip (BFMT); (b) a fall rye cover crop with spring manure application and chisel tillage (RSMT), both BMPs; a common system (c) fall manure application with spring chisel tillage (FMST). Year-round runoff monitoring included flow, suspended sediment (SS), total phosphorus (TP), dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP), ammonium (NH4+-N), nitrate, and total nitrogen (TN). Results showed BFMT reduced runoff SS, TP, and TN concentration and load compared to FMT. The RSMT system reduced concentrations of SS, TP, and TN, but not load because of increased runoff. The FMST practice increased TP, DRP, and NH4+-N loads by 39, 376, and 197%, respectively. While BMPs showed mitigation potential for SS, TN, and TP, none controlled DRP, suggesting additional practices may be needed in manured corn silage fields with high runoff potential. Full article
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Article
Weathering Intensity and Presence of Vegetation Are Key Controls on Soil Phosphorus Concentrations: Implications for Past and Future Terrestrial Ecosystems
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(4), 73; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems4040073 - 15 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 803
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) is an essential limiting nutrient in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Understanding the natural and anthropogenic influence on P concentration in soils is critical for predicting how its distribution in soils may shift as climate changes. While it is known that P [...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) is an essential limiting nutrient in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Understanding the natural and anthropogenic influence on P concentration in soils is critical for predicting how its distribution in soils may shift as climate changes. While it is known that P is sourced from bedrock weathering, relationships between weathering, P, and other soil-forming factors have not been quantified at continental scales, limiting our ability to predict large-scale changes in P concentrations. Additionally, while we know that Fe oxide-associated P is an important P phase in terrestrial environments, the range in and controls on soil Fe concentrations and species (e.g., Fe in oxides, labile Fe) are poorly constrained. Here, we explore the relationships between soil P and Fe concentrations, soil order, climate, and vegetation in over 5000 soils, and Fe speciation in ca. 400 soils. Weathering intensity has a nuanced control on P concentrations in soils, with P concentrations peaking at intermediate weathering intensities (Chemical Index of Alteration, CIA~60). The presence of vegetation (but not plant functional types) affected soils’ ability to accumulate P. Contrary to expectations, P was not more strongly associated with Fe in oxides than other Fe phases. These results are useful both for predicting changes in potential P fluxes from soils to rivers under climate change and for reconstructing changes in terrestrial nutrient limitations in Earth’s past. In particular, soils’ tendency to accumulate more P with the presence of vegetation suggests that biogeochemical models invoking the evolution and spread of land plants as a driver for increased P fluxes in the geological record may need to be revisited. Full article
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Article
Stratified Soil Sampling Improves Predictions of P Concentration in Surface Runoff and Tile Discharge
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(4), 67; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems4040067 - 19 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1104
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) stratification in agricultural soils has been proposed to increase the risk of P loss to surface waters. Stratified soil sampling that assesses soil test P (STP) in a shallow soil horizon may improve predictions of P concentrations in surface and subsurface [...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) stratification in agricultural soils has been proposed to increase the risk of P loss to surface waters. Stratified soil sampling that assesses soil test P (STP) in a shallow soil horizon may improve predictions of P concentrations in surface and subsurface discharge compared to single depth agronomic soil sampling. However, the utility of stratified sampling efforts for enhancing understanding of environmental P losses remains uncertain. In this study, we examined the potential benefit of integrating stratified sampling into existing agronomic soil testing efforts for predicting P concentrations in discharge from 39 crop fields in NW Ohio, USA. Edge-of-field (EoF) dissolved reactive P (DRP) and total P (TP) flow-weighted mean concentrations in surface runoff and tile drainage were positively related to soil test P (STP) measured in both the agronomic sampling depth (0–20 cm) and shallow sampling depth (0–5 cm). Tile and surface DRP and TP were more closely related to shallow depth STP than agronomic STP, as indicated by regression models with greater coefficients of determination (R2) and lesser root-mean square errors (RMSE). A multiple regression model including the agronomic STP and P stratification ratio (Pstrat) provided the best model fit for DRP in surface runoff and tile drainage and TP in tile drainage. Additionally, STP often varied significantly between soil sampling events at individual sites and these differences were only partially explained by management practices, highlighting the challenge of assessing STP at the field scale. Overall, the linkages between shallow STP and P transport persisted over time across agricultural fields and incorporating stratified soil sampling approaches showed potential for improving predictions of P concentrations in surface runoff and tile drainage. Full article
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Article
Grazing Systems to Retain and Redistribute Soil Phosphorus and to Reduce Phosphorus Losses in Runoff
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(4), 66; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems4040066 - 16 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 922
Abstract
A study of phosphorus accumulation and mobility was conducted in eight pastures in the Georgia piedmont, USA. We compared two potential grazing treatments: strategic-grazing (STR) and continuous-grazing-with-hay-distribution (CHD) from 2015 (Baseline) to 2018 (Post-Treatment) for (1) distribution of Mehlich-1 Phosphorus (M1P) in soil [...] Read more.
A study of phosphorus accumulation and mobility was conducted in eight pastures in the Georgia piedmont, USA. We compared two potential grazing treatments: strategic-grazing (STR) and continuous-grazing-with-hay-distribution (CHD) from 2015 (Baseline) to 2018 (Post-Treatment) for (1) distribution of Mehlich-1 Phosphorus (M1P) in soil and (2) dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) and total Kjeldahl phosphorus (TKP) in runoff water. STR included rotational grazing, excluding erosion vulnerable areas, and cattle-lure management using movable equipment (hay-rings, shades, and waterers). After three years of treatment, M1P had significantly accrued 6- and 5-fold in the 0–5 cm soil layer and by 2- and 1.6-fold in the 5–10 cm layer for CHD and STR, respectively, compared to Baseline M1P. In STR exclusions, M1P also increased to 10 cm depth post-treatment compared to Baseline. During Post-Treatment, TKP runoff concentrations were 21% and 29% lower, for CHD and STR, respectively, in 2018 compared to 2015. Hot Spot Analysis, a spatial clustering tool that utilizes Getis-Ord Gi* statistic, revealed no change in Post-Treatment CHD pastures, while hotspots in STR pastures had moved from low-lying to high-lying areas. Exclusion vegetation retained P and reduced bulk density facilitating vertical transportation of P deeper into the soil, ergo, soil P was less vulnerable to export in runoff, retained in the soil for forage utilization and reduced export of P to aquatic systems Full article
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Article
Speciation of Phosphorus from Suspended Sediment Studied by Bulk and Micro-XANES
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(3), 51; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems4030051 - 18 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 943
Abstract
Mobilization, transformation, and bioavailability of fluvial suspended sediment-associated particulate phosphorus (PP) plays a key role in governing the surface water quality of agricultural catchment streams. Knowledge on the molecular P speciation of suspended sediment is valuable in understanding in-stream PP cycling processes. Such [...] Read more.
Mobilization, transformation, and bioavailability of fluvial suspended sediment-associated particulate phosphorus (PP) plays a key role in governing the surface water quality of agricultural catchment streams. Knowledge on the molecular P speciation of suspended sediment is valuable in understanding in-stream PP cycling processes. Such information enables the design of appropriate catchment management strategies in order to protect surface water quality and mitigate eutrophication. In this study, we investigated P speciation associated with fluvial suspended sediments from two geologically contrasting agricultural catchments. Sequential chemical P extractions revealed the operationally defined P fractions for the fluvial suspended sediments, with Tintern Abbey (TA) dominated by redox-sensitive P (PCBD), Al, and Fe oxyhydroxides P (PNaOH) and organic P (POrg) while Ballyboughal (BB) primarily composed of acid soluble P (PDetr), redox-sensitive P (PCBD), and loosely sorbed P (PNH4Cl). The dominant calcareous (Ca) elemental characteristic of BB suspended sediment with some concurrent iron (Fe) influences was confirmed by XRF which is consistent with the catchment soil types. Ca-P sedimentary compounds were not detected using bulk P K-edge XANES, and only P K-edge µ-XANES could confirm their presence in BB sediment. Bulk P K-edge XANES is only capable of probing the average speciation and unable to resolve Ca-P as BB spectra is dominated by organic P, which may suggest the underestimation of this P fraction by sequential chemical P extractions. Notably, µ-XANES of Ca K-edge showed consistent results with P K-edge and soil geochemical characteristics of both catchments where Ca-P bonds were detected, together with calcite in BB, while in TA, Ca-P bonds were detected but mostly as organic complexed Ca. For the TA site, Fe-P is detected using bulk P K-edge, which corresponds with its soil geochemical characteristics and sequential chemical P extraction data. Overall, P concentrations were generally lower in TA, which led to difficulties in Fe-P compound detection using µ-XANES of TA. Overall, our study showed that coupling sequential chemical P extractions with progressively more advanced spectroscopic techniques provided more detailed information on P speciation, which can play a role in mobilization, transformation, and bioavailability of fluvial sediment-associated P. Full article
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Article
Streambank Legacy Sediments in Surface Waters: Phosphorus Sources or Sinks?
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(2), 30; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems4020030 - 11 May 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1354
Abstract
Streambank legacy sediments can contribute substantial amounts of sediments to Mid-Atlantic waterways. However, there is uncertainty about the sediment-bound P inputs and the fate of legacy sediment P in surface waters. We compared legacy sediment P concentrations against other streambank sediments and upland [...] Read more.
Streambank legacy sediments can contribute substantial amounts of sediments to Mid-Atlantic waterways. However, there is uncertainty about the sediment-bound P inputs and the fate of legacy sediment P in surface waters. We compared legacy sediment P concentrations against other streambank sediments and upland soils and evaluated a variety of P indices to determine if legacy sediments are a source or sink of P to surface waters. Legacy sediments were collected from 15 streambanks in the mid-Atlantic USA. Total P and M3P concentrations and % degree of phosphorus saturation (DPS) values for legacy sediments were lower than those for upland soils. % DPS values for legacy sediments were below the water quality threshold for P leaching. Phosphorus sorption index (PSI) values for legacy sediments indicated a large capacity for P sorption. On the other hand, equilibrium phosphorus concentration (EPC0) for legacy sediments suggested that they could be a source or a sink depending on stream water P concentrations. Anoxic conditions resulted in a greater release of P from legacy sediments compared to oxic conditions. These results suggest that legacy sediment P behavior could be highly variable and watershed models will need to account for this variability to reliably quantify the source-sink behavior of legacy sediments in surface waters. Full article
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Article
Autogenous Eutrophication, Anthropogenic Eutrophication, and Climate Change: Insights from the Antrift Reservoir (Hesse, Germany)
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(2), 29; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems4020029 - 07 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1177
Abstract
Climate change is projected to aggravate water quality impairment and to endanger drinking water supply. The effects of global warming on water quality must be understood better to develop targeted mitigation strategies. We conducted water and sediment analyses in the eutrophicated Antrift catchment [...] Read more.
Climate change is projected to aggravate water quality impairment and to endanger drinking water supply. The effects of global warming on water quality must be understood better to develop targeted mitigation strategies. We conducted water and sediment analyses in the eutrophicated Antrift catchment (Hesse, Germany) in the uncommonly warm years 2018/2019 to take an empirical look into the future under climate change conditions. In our study, algae blooms persisted long into autumn 2018 (November), and started early in spring 2019 (April). We found excessive phosphorus (P) concentrations throughout the year. At high flow in winter, P desorption from sediments fostered high P concentrations in the surface waters. We lead this back to the natural catchment-specific geochemical constraints of sediment P reactions (dilution- and pH-driven). Under natural conditions, the temporal dynamics of these constraints most likely led to high P concentrations, but probably did not cause algae blooms. Since the construction of a dammed reservoir, frequent algae blooms with sporadic fish kills have been occurring. Thus, management should focus less on reducing catchment P concentrations, but on counteracting summerly dissolved oxygen (DO) depletion in the reservoir. Particular attention should be paid to the monitoring and control of sediment P concentrations, especially under climate change. Full article
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Review

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Review
Phosphorus Transport along the Cropland–Riparian–Stream Continuum in Cold Climate Agroecosystems: A Review
Soil Syst. 2021, 5(1), 15; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems5010015 - 09 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1151
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) loss from cropland to ground and surface waters is a global concern. In cold climates (CCs), freeze–thaw cycles, snowmelt runoff events, and seasonally wet soils increase P loss potential while limiting P removal effectiveness of riparian buffer zones (RBZs) and other [...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) loss from cropland to ground and surface waters is a global concern. In cold climates (CCs), freeze–thaw cycles, snowmelt runoff events, and seasonally wet soils increase P loss potential while limiting P removal effectiveness of riparian buffer zones (RBZs) and other practices. While RBZs can help reduce particulate P transfer to streams, attenuation of dissolved P forms is more challenging. Moreover, P transport studies often focus on either cropland or RBZs exclusively rather than spanning the natural cropland–RBZ–stream gradient, defined here as the cropland–RBZ–stream continuum. Watershed P transport models and agronomic P site indices are commonly used to identify critical source areas; however, RBZ effects on P transport are usually not included. In addition, the coarse resolution of watershed P models may not capture finer-scale soil factors affecting P mobilization. It is clear that site microtopography and hydrology are closely linked and important drivers of P release and transport in overland flow. Combining light detection and ranging (LiDAR) based digital elevation models with P site indices and process-based models show promise for mapping and modeling P transport risk in cropland-RBZ areas; however, a better mechanistic understanding of processes controlling mobile P species across regions is needed. Broader predictive approaches integrating soil hydro-biogeochemical processes with real-time hydroclimatic data and risk assessment tools also hold promise for improving P transport risk assessment in CCs. Full article
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Review
Accessing Legacy Phosphorus in Soils
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(4), 74; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soilsystems4040074 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1459
Abstract
Repeated applications of phosphorus (P) fertilizers result in the buildup of P in soil (commonly known as legacy P), a large fraction of which is not immediately available for plant use. Long-term applications and accumulations of soil P is an inefficient use of [...] Read more.
Repeated applications of phosphorus (P) fertilizers result in the buildup of P in soil (commonly known as legacy P), a large fraction of which is not immediately available for plant use. Long-term applications and accumulations of soil P is an inefficient use of dwindling P supplies and can result in nutrient runoff, often leading to eutrophication of water bodies. Although soil legacy P is problematic in some regards, it conversely may serve as a source of P for crop use and could potentially decrease dependence on external P fertilizer inputs. This paper reviews the (1) current knowledge on the occurrence and bioaccessibility of different chemical forms of P in soil, (2) legacy P transformations with mineral and organic fertilizer applications in relation to their potential bioaccessibility, and (3) approaches and associated challenges for accessing native soil P that could be used to harness soil legacy P for crop production. We highlight how the occurrence and potential bioaccessibility of different forms of soil inorganic and organic P vary depending on soil properties, such as soil pH and organic matter content. We also found that accumulation of inorganic legacy P forms changes more than organic P species with fertilizer applications and cessations. We also discuss progress and challenges with current approaches for accessing native soil P that could be used for accessing legacy P, including natural and genetically modified plant-based strategies, the use of P-solubilizing microorganisms, and immobilized organic P-hydrolyzing enzymes. It is foreseeable that accessing legacy P will require multidisciplinary approaches to address these limitations. Full article
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