The results of the study, published in Water Science and Technology show that sub-surface leaching of phosphates from fertiliser applied to grassland presents a sustained threat to surface and groundwater quality throughout the year.

Measurements were taken from soil beneath cut grassland at depths of up to 1.35m. When 25kg/yr/ha of ‘triple super phosphate’ fertiliser had been applied to the soil (in line with UK government guidelines), average total phosphate levels of up to 152µg/l were recorded in the soil leachate.

The results are among the first to show clearly that the sub-surface leaching of phosphates is a serious threat to water resource quality, even when fertiliser is applied at approved levels for agriculture.

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