Evaluating the success of phosphorus management from field to watershed

Received for publication January 30, 2008. Studies have demonstrated some P loss reduction following implementation of remedial strategies at field scales. However, there has been little coordinated evaluation of best management practices (BMPs) on a watershed scale to show where, when, and which work most effectively. Thus, it is still difficult to answer with a degree of certainty, critical questions such as, how long before we see a response and where would we expect to observe the greatest or least response? In cases where field and watershed scales are monitored, it is not uncommon for trends in P loss to be disconnected. We review case studies demonstrating that potential causes of the disconnect varies, from competing sources of P at watershed scales that are not reflected in field monitoring to an abundance of sinks at watershed scales that buffer field sources. To be successful, P-based mitigation strategies need to occur iteratively, involve stakeholder driven programs, and address the inherent complexity of all P sources within watersheds.

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