Managing phosphorus responsibly

Christoph Kessel, Nutrition (Horticulture) Program Lead, OMAFRA

A Phosphorus PrimerLake Erie, algal blooms, phosphorus and agriculture.

These have been in the news over the past weeks. Earlier this year The International Joint Commission released its report A Balanced Diet for Lake Erie. It notes the following three points that are important for Ontario agriculture:

  1. Agricultural operations are a major source of phosphorus loadings into Lake Erie.
  2. These loadings result primarily from fertilizer application and manure.
  3. The main loading into the lake occurs during spring snowmelt and heavy rainstorms.

A Phosphorus Primer: best management practices for reducing phosphorus from agricultural sources is a 38-page booklet outlining Best Management Practices (BMPs) for on-farm management to keep phosphorus in its place.

With many illustrations and photos, A Phosphorus Primer follows phosphorus in its various forms in soil and water and shows how it can travel in runoff, erosion, leaks and drainpipes.

The BMPs are described for managing:

  • point sources, such as manure storages and dairy washwaters, focus on reduction, containment, and treatment.
  • non-point sources, such as cropland runoff and erosion, include nutrient management planning, and soil, field and shoreline practices.

To order your free copy of Best Management Practices Series: A Phosphorus Primer (Publication number BMP24E) contact ServiceOntario by visiting or calling 1-800-668-9938.

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