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Phosphorus Leaching in Sandy Soils. I. Short-term Effects of Fertilizer Applications and Environmental Conditions

D. M. Weaver, University of Western Australia
G. S.P. Ritchie, University of Western Australia
G. C. Anderson, University of Western Australia
D. M. Deeley, University of Western Australia

Article comments

Copyright © 1988 Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO). The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SR9880177.

NOTE: At the time of publication, the author G.S.P. Ritchie was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.

Abstract

The consequences of previous as well as current environmental conditions and management practices on the potential for phosphorus (P) to be lost by drainage from sandy soils in the short term (< 1 year) were studied in the laboratory and the field. The potential for P losses by drainage was estimated by measuring soil solution P levels and rapidly released P. Rapidly released P was measured by determining the concentration of dissolved inorganic P contained in filtered (<0.45 µm) soil solutions after incubating soil at saturation for 15 min at ambient temperature. In the laboratory, sandy soils were incubated with ordinary superphosphate, coastal superphosphate (a granulated mixture of equal parts of superphospate, rock phosphate and elemental sulfur) or lime-superphosphate (a lime-reverted superphosphate with 18% kiln dust) and sequentially desorbed with deionized water. The effects of the extent of leaching, fertilizer type, application rate and the time of contact with the soil on soil solution P levels were investigated. The influence of annual pasture death and summer rainfall on rapidly released P in soils that had been pre-treated by leaching were also investigated.

Phosphorus concentrations decreased logarithmically in the successive supernatants of the sequentially desorbed soils. More P was desorbed from soils incubated with superphosphate and lime-superphosphate than soil incubated with coastal superphosphate. At each level of pre-leaching, the P concentrations in the soil solution increased with increasing time. The level, to which the P concentration in the soil solution increased at each time, decreased with increased extent of pre-leaching. The addition of P fertilizers increased the concentration of P in the soil solution. The concentrations increased with increasing application rate and were much higher for superphosphate than for coastal superphosphate; however, there was little effect of contact time on soil solution P levels. Rapidly released P levels after leaching increased during a period of no further leaching. Additional moisture or plant material during this period of no further leaching increased the rate and extent to which rapidly released P increased. Monitoring of rapidly released P in the 0-2, 2-5, 5-10 and 10-20 cm layers of field plots, with and without applications of superphosphate, showed that sampling depth, water flow path, fertilizer management, rainfall pattern and background P levels would affect the estimate of short-term P losses. Rapidly released P in the 0-2 cm layer varied markedly with time and was higher (P < 0.05) than that in lower soil layers. Rapidly released P increased after the winter and spring rains diminished and then decreased after the rains commenced again at the end of the summer. A possible annual cycle of P in sandy soils in a mediterranean climate is postulated by considering the laboratory and field data in combination.

Suggested Citation

D. M. Weaver, G. S.P. Ritchie, G. C. Anderson, and D. M. Deeley. "Phosphorus Leaching in Sandy Soils. I. Short-term Effects of Fertilizer Applications and Environmental Conditions" Australian Journal of Soil Research 26.1 (1988): 177-190.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/gsritchi/6