Quantifying the influence of tile drainage on phosphorus (P) transport risk is important where eutrophication is a concern. The objective of this study was to compare P exports from tile-drained (TD) and undrained (UD) edge-of-field plots in northern New York. Four plots (46 by 23 m) were established with tile drainage and surface runoff collection during 2012–2013. Grass sod was terminated in fall 2013 and corn (Zea mays
L.) for silage was grown in 2014 and 2015. Runoff, total phosphorus (TP), soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), and total suspended solids (TSS) exports were measured from April 2014 through June 2015. Mean total runoff was 396% greater for TD, however, surface runoff for TD was reduced by 84% compared to UD. There was no difference in mean cumulative TP export, while SRP and TSS exports were 55% and 158% greater for UD, respectively. A three day rain/snowmelt event resulted in 61% and 84% of cumulative SRP exports for TD and UD, respectively, with over 100% greater TP, SRP and TSS exports for UD. Results indicate that tile drainage substantially reduced surface runoff, TSS and SRP exports while having no impact on TP exports, suggesting tile drains may not increase the overall P export risk.
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