The Promise, Practice, and State of Planning Tools to Assess Site Vulnerability to Runoff Phosphorus Loss

Over the past 20 yr, there has been a proliferation of phosphorus (P) site assessment tools for nutrient management planning, particularly in the United States. The 19 papers that make up this special section on P site assessment include decision support tools ranging from the P Index to fate-and-transport models to weather-forecast-based risk calculators. All require objective evaluation to ensure that they are effective in achieving intended benefits to protecting water quality. In the United States, efforts have been underway to compare, evaluate, and advance an array of P site assessment tools. Efforts to corroborate their performance using water quality monitoring data confirms previously documented discrepancies between different P site assessment tools but also highlights a surprisingly strong performance of many versions of the P Index as a predictor of water quality. At the same time, fate-and-transport models, often considered to be superior in their prediction of hydrology and water quality due to their complexity, reveal limitations when applied to site assessment. Indeed, one consistent theme from recent experience is the need to calibrate highly parameterized models. As P site assessment evolves, so too do routines representing important aspects of P cycling and transport. New classes of P site assessment tools are an opportunity to move P site assessment from general, strategic goals to web-based tools supporting daily, operational decisions
Publication history: Accepted - 23 October 2017; Published online - 1 November 2017.
Kleinman, P. J. A., Sharpley, A. N., Buda, A. R., Easton, Z. M., Lory, J. A., Osmond, D. L., Radcliffe, D. E., Nelson, N. O., Veith, T. L. and Doody, D. G. (2017) ‘The Promise, Practice, and State of Planning Tools to Assess Site Vulnerability to Runoff Phosphorus Loss’, Journal of Environmental Quality, 46(6), pp. 1243–1249. doi: 10.2134/jeq2017.10.0395.