Using Crop Management Scenario Simulations to Evaluate the Sensitivity of the Ohio Phosphorus Risk Index
Journal of Environmental Protection
Phosphorus (P) risk indices are commonly used in the USA to estimate the field-scale risk of agricultural P runoff. Because the Ohio P Risk Index is increasingly being used to judge farmer performance, it is important to evaluate weighting/scoring of all P Index parameters to ensure Ohio farmers are credited for practices that reduce P runoff risk and not unduly penalized for things not demonstrably related to runoff risk. A sensitivity analysis provides information as to how sensitive the P
... sensitive the P Index score is to changes in inputs. The objectives were to determine 1) which inputs are most highly associated with P Index scores and 2) the relative impact of each input variable on resultant P Index scores. The current approach uses simulations across 6134 Ohio point locations and five crop management scenarios (CMSs), representing increasing soil disturbance. The CMSs range from all no-till, which is being promoted in Ohio, rotational tillage, which is a common practice in Ohio to full tillage to represent an extreme practice. Results showed that P Index scores were best explained by soil test P (31.9%) followed by connectivity to water (29.7%), soil erosion (13.4%), fertilizer application amount (11.3%), runoff class (9.5%), fertilizer application method (2.2%), and finally filter strip (2.0%). Ohio P Index simulations across CMSs one through five showed that >40% scored <15 points (low) while <1.5% scored >45 points (very high). Given Ohio water quality problems, the Ohio P Index needs to be stricter. The current approach is useful for Ohio P Index evaluations and revision decisions by spatially illustrating the impact of potential changes regionally and statewide.