Spatial variation in soil properties and diffuse losses between and within grassland fields with similar short-term management

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Peukert, S., Griffith, B. A., Murray, P. J., Macleod, C. J. A. and Brazier, R. E. 2016. Spatial variation in soil properties and diffuse losses between and within grassland fields with similar short-term management. European Journal of Soil Science. 67 (4), pp. 386-396.

AuthorsPeukert, S., Griffith, B. A., Murray, P. J., Macleod, C. J. A. and Brazier, R. E.
Abstract

One of the major challenges for agriculture is to understand the effects of agricultural practices on soil properties and diffuse pollution, to support practical farm-scale land management. Three conventionally managed grassland fields with similar short-term management, but different ploughing histories, were studied on a long-term research platform: the North Wyke Farm Platform. The aims were to (i) quantify the between-field and within-field spatial variation in soil properties by geostatistical analysis, (ii) understand the effects of soil condition (in terms of nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon contents) on the quality of discharge water and (iii) establish robust baseline data before the implementation of various grassland management scenarios. Although the fields sampled had experienced the same land use and similar management for at least 6 years, there were differences in their mean soil properties. They showed different patterns of soil spatial variation and different rates of diffuse nutrient losses to water. The oldest permanent pasture field had the largest soil macronutrient concentrations and the greatest diffuse nutrient losses. We show that management histories affect soil properties and diffuse losses. Potential gains in herbage yield or benefits in water quality might be achieved by characterizing every field or by area-specific management within fields (a form of precision agriculture for grasslands). Permanent pasture per se cannot be considered a mitigation measure for diffuse pollution. The between-and within-field soil spatial variation emphasizes the importance of baseline characterization and will enable the reliable identification of any effects of future management change on the Farm Platform.

KeywordsSoil Science
Year of Publication2016
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Journal citation67 (4), pp. 386-396
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/ejss.12351
PubMed ID27867311
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Funder project or codeThe North Wyke Farm Platform [2012-2017]
Publisher's version
Copyright license
CC BY
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online15 Jul 2016
Publication process dates
Accepted18 Apr 2016
PublisherWiley
ISSN1351-0754

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