Phosphorous in the Environment
If you are a boater, fisher, farmer, or just someone who cares about the world there is a good chance that you have heard about the issues on Lake Erie every summer related to algal blooms and phosphorous loading. These issues aren't local to Lake Erie though, more close to home algae has been an issue in Acton Lake, Brookville Lake, and even in our own backyards private ponds suffer from these problems. Experts are puzzled by this statistic. Since the beginning of no till farming, as much as 50% of all land in the US is farmed without the use tillage equipment. But with reduced tillage the runoff should be less right? In theory, yes, but experts say this is not the case.
Reduced erosion means less total phosphorous entering our waterways. However, without the mixing process from heavy tillage this means that highly soluble dry fertilizer laying on top has an easy access path to nearby ditches, streams, rivers, and eventually lakes. By not disturbing the soil, fertilizer never has a chance to bind to soil particles. Researchers are now tasked with finding a way to incorporate nutrients but not harm 30 years worth of efforts by the no till farming community.
Miami University Research: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.est.8b05152
Ohio State University (CTTC/ CFAES): https://www.morningagclips.com/how-why-to-keep-phos-on-no-till-fields/
USDA - ARS: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2015/09/01/using-gypsum-help-reduce-phosphorus-runoff
Hoorman Soil Health: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2015/09/01/using-gypsum-help-reduce-phosphorus-runoff