An experiment was conducted to examine how potential phosphorus (P) bioavailability (inferred from speciation) differs in feed and feces collected in spring from four dairy herds representing different management systems: (i) total confinement with cows fed total mixed ration (TMR), (ii) total confinement with TMR plus P mineral supplement, (iii) a hybrid of confinement with TMR and pastoral grazing, and (iv) predominantly grazing with supplemental grains. A treatment was included that air dried feces to simulate conditions after dung deposition. Wet chemical techniques and solution 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P-NMR) were used to identify P concentrations and compounds present in water (a surrogate for P in overland flow), dilute acid (0.012 M HCl, an estimate of P utilization by cattle), or NaOH-EDTA (a solution that maximizes the organic P extraction) extracts of feed and feces. In general, P concentration in feces paralleled P in feed. Air drying feces decreased water-extractable P by 13 to 61% largely due to a decrease in orthophosphate, whereas NaOH-EDTA-extractable P increased by 18 to 48%. Analysis of dilute HCl was unsuccessful due to orthophosphate precipitation when pH was adjusted to 12 for 31P-NMR. In water extracts, more P was in bioavailable diester-P forms, undetectable by colorimetry, than in NaOH-EDTA extracts. In feed, orthophosphate dominated (46-70%), but myo-IHP varied with feed (<10% in forage samples but 43% in a TMR sample). The proportion of myo-IHP decreased in feces compared with feed via mineralization but decreased less in systems with a greater proportion of available P input (e.g., orthophosphate and phospholipids). Feed and drying effect the concentrations and forms of P in feces and their potential impact on soil and water quality. Although bioavailable P in feces from pasture-based and confined systems can be similar in spring, dung-P is distributed on a lower kg P ha-1 rate in grazing systems. The best method to mitigate P loss from feces is to decrease P in feed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law