A comparison of phosphorus speciation and potential bioavailability in feed and feces of different dairy herds using 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

R. W. McDowell, Z. Dou, J. D. Toth, B. J. Cade-Menun, P. J.A. Kleinman, K. Soder, L. Saporito

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37 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-752
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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