The correlation of runoff phosphorus (P) with water-extractable phosphorus (WEP) in land-applied manures and biosolids has spurred wide use of WEP as a water quality indicator. Land managers, planners, and researchers need a common WEP protocol to consistently use WEP in nutrient management. Our objectives were to (i) identify a common WEP protocol with sufficient accuracy and precision to be adopted by commercial testing laboratories and (ii) confirm that the common protocol is a reliable index of runoff P. Ten laboratories across North America evaluated alternative protocols with an array of manure and biosolids samples. A single laboratory analyzed all samples and conducted a separate runoff study with the manures and biosolids. Extraction ratio (solution:solids) was the most important factor affecting WEP, with WEP increasing from 10:1 to 100:1 and increasing from 100:1 to 200:1. When WEP was measured by a single laboratory, correlations with runoff P from packed soil boxes amended with manure and biosolids ranged from 0.79 to 0.92 across all protocol combinations (extraction ratio, filtration method, and P determination method). Correlations with P in runoff were slightly lower but significant when WEP was measured by the 10 labs (r = 0.56-0.86). Based on laboratory repeatability and water quality evaluation criteria, we recommend the following common protocol: 100:1 extraction ratio; 1-h shaking and centrifuge 10 min at 1500 x g (filter with Whatman #1 paper if necessary); and determining P by inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry or colorimetric methods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law