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Phosphorus, Your Fields and Pastures, and Water Quality Protection

By   /  April 6, 2015  /  2 Comments

The results of studies in Vermont can help us keep our water clean while we raise good food for our community.

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Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plants and all animals. It’s literally in the DNA of e
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About the author

Julie Moore is the Water Resources Group Leader at Stone Environmental, an environmental consulting firm headquartered in Montpelier, Vermont. Julie has led numerous watershed planning and assessment projects, and has a deep understanding of water quality concerns associated with runoff from agricultural areas and developed lands. She has a wide variety of experience engaging the public in watershed management programs and activities. Prior to joining Stone in 2011, Julie spent seven years at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) where she led the state’s efforts to reduce phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain. Since leaving state service, Julie has volunteered in various capacities with organizations dedicated to improving Vermont’s water resources, including: as Chair of the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain Advisory Council; on the Board of Directors of both the Friends of the Winooski River and Watersheds United; and as an Associate Supervisor with the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District. Most recently, Julie was appointed by Governor Shumlin to a second three-year term on the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) on the Future of Lake Champlain and elected Chair. Julie earned a B.S. in civil engineering, cum laude, from the University at Buffalo and an M.S. in environmental science and policy from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. Julie lives in Middlesex, Vermont with her husband, Aaron, and their two children.


  1. Chip Hines says:

    I agree with Gene. Cows depositing manure in a natural way during grazing is much different than any man devised system. Hay fields while better than corn, are also unnatural as in nature they were grazed.

    Ultra High Density Grazing (UHDG) is proving to be very efficient in returning all nutrients to the soil where needed and runoff is very low.

    The solution for corn fields is cover crops and much better if they are then grazed. The theory for cover crops came from grasslands where there is cover all year and live roots in the soil all year. Even when the plant is dormant, live roots are contributing.

    Nature had it all figured out. Understanding and using nature solves most problems.

  2. Gene Schriefer says:

    Wisconsin has developed a Phosphorous Index (PI) it is combination of soil loss and P attached to soil. We can have high P soils but if erosion (soil loss) is very low. P leaving the farm is also low. We can also have very low testing P soils but with high levels of soil loss and generate high PI.

    Erosion is the main issue as well as timing of manure applications. Interestingly Wisconsin research on well managed pastures demonstrates extremely low N and P losses from the system. All manure is not created equal, mechanically applied manure does not behave the same as animal deposited manure. It is very difficult to lose animal applied manure, it has structure and adheres to the forage underneath.

    Hayfields are very different than a pasture.

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