When the bulk of phosphorus (P) is located near the soil surface, spring drying of topsoil in Mediterranean-type climates can reduce P availability to crops and cause potential yield loss. In crop species that require a P supply during spring, deep-placement of P fertiliser has proved an effective method of improving P availability and grain yields; however, the spring P demand of field-grown canola (Brassica napus L.) and therefore potential response to deep P placement is not known. This study investigated the effect of deep- (0.17–0.18 m), conventional- (shallow, 0.07–0.08 m), split- (50% deep, 50% shallow), and nil-P fertiliser treatments on P accumulation and seed yields of canola in two field trials. In addition, a glasshouse experiment with different depths of P fertiliser placement and topsoil drying at different growth stages was conducted. In the glasshouse study, deep P placement resulted in greater P uptake by plants, but did not increase seed yields regardless of the time of topsoil drying. At the relatively high-soil-P field site (canola grown on residual P application from the previous year) in a dry season, there was no biomass response to any residual P fertiliser treatments, and P accumulation had ceased by mid flowering. At the low-P field site, P accumulation continued throughout flowering and silique-filling, and seed yields increased significantly (P ≤ 0.05) in the order of split- > deep- > shallow- > nil-P treatments. Improved seed yields in the split- and deep-P treatments appeared to be the direct result of enhanced P availability; in particular, P uptake during vegetative growth (winter) was higher in the treatments with deep P placement. A greater understanding of P accumulation by field-grown canola in relation to soil P properties is needed for better defining optimum P fertiliser placement recommendations.
Rose, TJ, Rengel, Z, Ma, Q, & Bowden, JW 2009, 'Phosphorus accumulation by field-grown canola crops and the potential for deep phosphorus placement in a Mediterranean-type climate', Crop and Pasture Science, vol. 60, no. 10, pp. 987-994.
The publisher's version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/CP08367