Lv 4
Misty asked in Science & MathematicsAgriculture · 1 decade ago

If more levels of Phosphorus is found in waterways (because of farm runoff) what happens?

I know that there are laws on how much phosphorus pollution is allowed but what are farmers supposed to do to prevent this? Are they supposed to stop giving the animals so much phosphorus or get rid of the animal waste some other way or what?

3 Answers

  • Scott
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Actually what they do is form a nutrient management plan with the DNR. You learn ways to keep runoff from reaching waterways like strip cropping and no-till. It really has little to do with reducing phosphorus more containing it.

  • ERIC
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    While it's possible to feed a lower phos. diet, it is not always practical or the most efficient way to go. Instead we rely more on nutrient management. As said before Phosphorous is one of the key minerals for plant growth, and is something that we need. The key is using it in such a manner where the risk of water pollution is minimized as much as possible. This will involve things such as routine soil sampling to see just how much is needed for the next crop, sampling of manure for the nutrient content, calibration of manure spreaders to know how much is being put on, as well as record keeping of manure applications. As well as other things such as buffer strips (typically grasses or native vegetation) between the fields and waterways, not spreading within a certain distance of the waterway. The buffer strip will help with this distance setback as well as provide a filter for any runoff. Also working the manure into the soil as soon as possible after application will help prevent runoff, as well as minimize nitrogen volitazation, and reduce odors. This also means no spreading on frozen ground in areas where runoff to a waterway could occur.

    The list could go on and on with simple ways of minimizing the risk which are often simple management decisions, and are already in place on most farms. The record keeping is the most important as there is some form of documentation that you were doing your best effort to do everything right if a problem or accusation should ever arise. They can take a look at the lab records of both the soil and manure samples, as well as the number and species of livestock present and be able to tell pretty quickly if the farm records are accurate or not.

  • 1 decade ago

    The phosphorus comes from fertilizer. It is one of the three major plant nutrients, along with Nitrogen and potassium. It used to be a problem with municipal waste water. Phosphates were added to detergents to prevent soap scum. Other chemicals are now used instead. If the phosphate levels rise in ponds and streams it may cause an overgrowth in algae. The algae can then begin to die and this decreases the Oxygen levels. This can kill fish who decompose and cause the Oxygen to drop still farther. One serious water pollution problem is animal waste, especially from poultry farming. The farmers are more or less sharecroppers for large poultry companies. They are paid only to raise the birds to maturity. The company owns the livestock but does not assume any responsibility for the animal waste. It typically runs off farms untreated into streams. This has seriously polluted the Chesapeake watershed.

    Source(s): I'm a chemist!
  • 1 decade ago

    It is fertilizer. When it runs off it cause algae to grow. Often it grows so much that it causes eutrification or all the oxygen is used up because there is too many bacteria using all the oxygen.

    It is mostly in the form of fertilizer for plants that it might be a problem. You also get situations like some rivers in Arkansas where chicken farmers runoff causes the same problem. They use treatment like settling ponds or other treatments to reduce the load.

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