An environmental soil test to estimate the intrinsic risk of sediment and phosphorus mobilization from European soils

P. J. A Withers, R. A Hodkinson, E Barberis, M Presta, Helinä Hartikainen, J Quinton, N Miller, I Sisak, P Strauss, A Mentler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


"Methodologies are required to help identify soils that are vulnerable to both suspended sediment (SS) and phosphorus (P) transfer in land run-off to combat the adverse impacts of agriculture on water quality. A laboratory test that quantifies dispersed particles and associated P in the same suspension was developed to estimate the potential mobilization of SS and P due to rainfall impact from 26 European soils with varied soil physical and chemical properties and P inputs. The test recovers an aliquot of the clay and fine silt ( < 20 mu m) fraction of soils after gently shaking in distilled water for 1 min at a 1:50 soil-to-solution ratio and measures the dry residue, total P and dissolved (< 0.45 mu m) P content. The results of the test correlated well (r(2) = 0.7-0.8) with the amounts of SS, total P and dissolved P in overland flow generated by indoor simulated rainfall (intensity 60 mill h(-1) for 30 min and a 5 degrees slope). Variation in SS and particulate P mobilization was linked to soil pH, organic matter (or clay) and sesquioxide content, although a multiple regression analysis showed these factors accounted for no more than 55% of this variation. Ranking showed that the soils generating the most sediment did not necessarily generate the most P loss due to variable degrees of P enrichment of the particulate fraction and variable contributions of dissolved P. Particulate P enrichment was related weakly (r(2) = 0.5) to soil total P, while dissolved P fractions were predicted well (r(2) = 0.8-0.9) by conventional soil P tests (water and Olsen). The environmental soil test has a potential role in identifying the comparative risk of sediment and P mobilization from critical source areas connected via both surface and subsurface pathways, and in providing data for incorporation into models predicting sediment and P transfer at the field and catchment scale."
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoil Use and Management
Issue numberSuppl.1
Pages (from-to)57-70
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2007
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 411 Agriculture and forestry
  • 116 Chemical sciences

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