Theses and Dissertations



Ramirez-Avila, John

Committee Member

Locke, Martin A.

Committee Member

Gholson, Drew M.

Committee Member

Lynn, Thomas J.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Embargo 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Basin (LMAB) faces significant environmental challenges due to phosphorus (P) runoff from agricultural lands, contributing to eutrophication and aquatic ecosystem degradation. Excess nutrient runoff, particularly P, threatens water quality and contributes to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. The current Mississippi Phosphorus Index (P-Index), a tool for assessing P loss vulnerability from agricultural fields, has shown limitations in its applicability across the diverse conditions of the Mississippi Delta, a sub-region of the LMAB. This research presents a comprehensive revision of the P-Index by employing a suite of analytical techniques and diverse data sources, including geospatial analysis, rainfall simulations, and extensive data from soil tests, agricultural censuses, and expert evaluations. The aim was to enhance the model's sensitivity and accuracy in predicting P loss vulnerability, thereby enabling more precise nutrient management recommendations tailored to the Mississippi Delta's unique agricultural and environmental conditions. The study identified a critical lack of variability in the P-Index's recommendations for different agricultural scenarios within the region, highlighting its inadequacy in accurately reflecting the specific vulnerabilities to soil P loss. Through a detailed sensitivity analysis and recalibration of the model, incorporating updated parameters and data sources, significant improvements were achieved. The revised P-Index now better distinguishes between various agricultural practices set in the environmental conditions of the MS Delta, offering differentiated recommendations that align closely with the region's real-world complexities. Furthermore, the research underscores the necessity for ongoing investigations into the equivalencies between different soil test P methods (Lancaster and Mehlich-III) and the impact of P levels in irrigation water on nutrient cycling and loss. The recalibrated P-Index represents a significant step forward in regional nutrient management strategies, promising enhanced environmental protection and agricultural sustainability through more informed and targeted recommendations. This work emphasizes the critical need for adapting nutrient management tools like the P-Index to regional conditions, ensuring they accurately address the environmental challenges and agricultural practices specific to areas like the Mississippi Delta. Keywords: Nutrient management, Phosphorus Index, Mississippi Delta, Agricultural runoff, Soil test phosphorus, Environmental sustainability, Sensitivity analysis, Trend analysis.

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026