Utilisation of inorganic and organic soil phosphorus in a hill country soil


  • K.W. Perrott




Changes in phosphorus (P) fractions of unfertilised and fertilised (superphosphate) soil were investigated over five years at a hill country site near Te Kuiti. Only soil inorganic P (Pi) reserves were utilised for plant uptake when superphosphate was withheld at the site. Immobilisation of P as soil organic P (PO) contributed to depletion of the soil Pi reserves during the first two years of this trial. Where superphosphate was applied, immobilisation of P as PO amounted to about 25% of applied P during the five years measurements were made. Changes in soil P fractions indicated that all forms of soil Pi were utilised when superphosphate was withheld. These included readily available Pi, Al- Pi, Fe-Pi, and residual phosphate rock from previous fertiliser applications. Depletion of the phosphate rock residues in the soil also occurred where superphosphate was applied and appears to have been completed within about two years. The phosphate rock residues had probably accumulated because of the relatively high amounts of unacidulated phosphate rock in superphosphate manufactured before 1983. Accumulation of Po associated with humic acid, or adsorbed on surfaces of hy drous oxides of Al and Fe, occurred in both fertilised and unfertilised soils. The more labile forms of PO also increased in the fertilised soil. Keywords inorganic phosphorus, organic phosphorus, phosphorus immobilisation, soil phosphorus, soil phosphorus fractions, soil phosphorus utilisation.