Moldboard plowing following compost application significantly reduces nutrient transport

John E. Gilley, Eghball Bahman, David B. Marx

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The excessive application of manure on cropland areas can cause nutrients to accumulate near the soil surface and increase nutrient transport by overland flow. Inverting soils with high surface nutrient content could reduce runoff nutrient transport. This study was conducted to measure the effects of moldboard plowing on the redistribution of nutrients within the soil profile and nutrient transport by overland flow. Composted beef cattle manure was applied at dry weights of 0, 68,105,142, and 178 Mg ha -1 to a silty clay loam soil and then incorporated by disking. Selected plots were moldboard plowed 244 days later to a depth of approximately 23 cm. Soil samples for analysis of water-soluble phosphorus, Bray and Kurtz No.1 phosphorus (Bray-1 P), NO 3-N, and NH 4-N were collected at depths of 0-5, 5-15, and 15-30 cm before and after moldboard plowing. Three 30-min simulated rainfall events, separated by 24-hour intervals, were applied at an intensity of approximately 70 mm hr -1. Dissolved phosphorus (DP), NO 3-N, NH 4-N, and total nitrogen (TN) content of runoff were measured from 0.75 wide x 2.0 m long plots. No significant differences in runoff and erosion were measured among experimental treatments as a result of the moldboard plowing operation. However, Bray-1 P content at the 0-5 cm soil depth was reduced from 200 to 48.0 mg kg -1 and NO 3-N content decreased from 9.49 to 2.52 mg kg -1. Consequently, concentrations of DP, NO 3-N, and TN in runoff decreased significantly on the moldboard plowed plots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
Event2007 ASABE Annual International Meeting, Technical Papers - Minneapolis, MN, United States
Duration: Jun 17 2007Jun 20 2007


Conference2007 ASABE Annual International Meeting, Technical Papers
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityMinneapolis, MN


  • Eutrophication
  • Manure management
  • Manure runoff
  • Nitrogen movement
  • Nutrient losses
  • Phosphorus
  • Runoff
  • Tillage
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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