The P Index is the Phosphorus Index, a risk assessment tool to quantify the potential for phosphorus runoff from a field. The P Index helps to target critical source areas of potential P loss for greater management attention. It includes source and transport factors. Source factors address how much P is available (for example, soil test P level and P fertilizer and manure application amounts). Transport factors evaluate the potential for runoff to occur (for example, soil erosion, distance and connectivity to water, soil slope, and soil texture). The P Index allows for relative comparisons of P runoff risk. When the P Index is high, recommendations are made either to apply manure on a P basis or not to apply manure at all. When the P Index is low, manure can be applied on a N basis. Also, if the P Index is high, the factors that are responsible for the higher risk of P loss are identified, and this information provides guidance for management practices to reduce the risk. For example, if the P Index is high because of high soil erosion, a recommendation to implement soil conservation best management practices (BMPs) may lower the risk and allow safe manure application.
For additional information:
- Environmental Impacts and Benefits of Manure: Phosphorus and Surface Water Protection
- Management of Land-Applied Manure Phosphorus
- Livestock and Poutry Environmental Stewardship (LPES) Curriculum Lession 34: Phosphorus Management for Agriculture and the Environment and Agricultural Phosphorus and Eutrophication are publications about the environmental concerns for excess phosphorus. They also introduce the concept of a P Index and discusses management options for minimizing movement of phosphorus from fields.
- Agricultural Phosphorus Management and Water Quality in the Midwest is a four-state publication for nutrient management planners introducing the risk of P delivery to surface waters, assessment of this risk, and P management options for reducing this risk.
To find your state’s P Index, do a web search for “phosphorus index” plus your state name.
Author: Jessica Davis, Colorado State University