Improving Our Understanding of Interactions Between Best Management Practices, Tile Drainage, and Phosphorus Losses in Subsurface and Surface Runoff


February 1, 2019 to January 31, 2022


Researchers will examine how best management practices and tile drainage affect phosphorus (P) loss in surface and subsurface water runoff on an Addison County, Vermont farm within the Lake Champlain basin. Results of this study will improve understanding of the effects of best management practices (BMPs) on the health of the watershed. Researchers will install two edge-of-field surface runoff monitoring stations on paired micro-watersheds in a corn silage field. These will accompany two existing edge-of-field subsurface runoff monitoring stations.

The study will accumulate surface and subsurface runoff and phosphorus-loss data from two years of monitoring. Data will assess the impact of a no-till and cover crops on the treatment watershed (vs. tillage and no cover crop on the control watershed). Findings will provide preliminary recommendations for modification of the Vermont P-Index to better predict risk of phosphorus loss from fine textured soils growing corn silage and managed with and without Best Management Practices. Outreach products include: at least one on-farm workshop, a summary of findings in written form for dissemination to Lake Champlain basin stakeholders, one presentation at a regional gathering, and one presentation at a national academic conference.


Joshua Faulkner
University of Vermont
Joshua.Faulkner [at]

Don Ross
University of Vermont
dross [at]

Kirsten Workman
University of Vermont
Kirsten.Workman [at]

Resulting Publications

Tile Drainage Flow Partitioning and Phosphorus Export in Vermont USA

Published 2022
This scientific journal article in Agriculture describes Lake Champlain Sea Grant-funded research by University of Vermont scientists who tested water flow and phosphorus export from tile drains on farm lands in Vermont, USA. This study highlights the impacts of current manure management and potential for climate change to increase phosphorus export from tile drainage.