Best management practices (BMPs) are site-specific and their implementation, long-term management, and maintenance are important for successful reduction of phosphorus (P) loss into headwater streams. This paper reviews published research on managing P loss from agricultural cropping systems in the Midwestern United States and classified the available research based on BMPs and their efficacy in reducing P loss. This review paper also identifies the areas where additional research could provide insight for managing P losses. Our literature review shows that cover crops, reduced tillage, saturated buffers, and constructed wetlands are the most evaluated areas of current research. However, additional research is necessary on the site-specific area to measure the effectiveness of BMPs in managing P loss. The BMPs that serve as a sink of P need further evaluation in long-term field-scale trials. Studies evaluating adsorption and desorption mechanisms of P in surface and subsurface soils with materials or amendments that bind P in the soil are needed. The time required and pathways, where the flush of available P is lost or fixed in the soil matrix, need further investigation. Measured P loss from BMPs like bioreactors and saturated buffers supplemented with P adsorption materials or filters need to be simulated with models for their prediction and validation. Field evaluations of P index and critical source area concepts should be investigated for identifying problematic areas in the watersheds. Identification of overlapping areas of high P source and transport can help in strategic planning and layout, thereby resulting in reducing the cost of implementing BMPs at field and watershed scales.
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