Winter Crops Reduce Phosphorus Runoff

BURLINGTON, Vt., Feb. 5 (UPI) — The use of winter cover crops to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain could be applied to other U.S. watersheds, Vermont scientists said.

Phosphorus acts as a fertilizer in soil and water, boosting weed growth and algae blooms.


Scientists at the University of Vermont, Burlington, found that 80 percent of the phosphorus reaching Lake Champlain’s Rock River watershed came from just 24 percent of the land around the watershed.

Changing land management practices in those high-risk fields could slash phosphorus runoff by as much as 48 percent, university researcher Mary Watzin told The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press in a story published Friday.

The changes include planting winter cover crops on cornfields in critical areas, creating grass buffer strips along selected streams and reducing the amount of phosphorus fed to cows, whose waste is used to fertilize fields.

Lessons from the university’s study could be applied to urban and suburban watersheds in other states dealing with lake pollution, said Julie Moore, director of a Lake Champlain cleanup program.

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Categorized | Wastewater & Runoff
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