Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 481–496 | Cite as

Nitrogen application favors soil organic phosphorus accumulation in calcareous vegetable fields

  • Shuo Chen
  • Zhengjuan YanEmail author
  • Shuai Zhang
  • Bingqian Fan
  • Barbara J. Cade-Menun
  • Qing ChenEmail author
Original Paper


Understanding soil P transformation is critical to optimizing P supply to crops while minimizing P loss to water. Nitrogen application in agricultural fields can cause acidification, changing soil chemistry and altering P cycling. In a calcareous vegetable field in China, 13 years of N application (1172 kg N ha−1 year−1) significantly decreased soil pH, CaCO3, and Mehlich-3 extractable (M3) Mg and increased M3-Fe and M3-Al. Nitrogen addition also increased microbial biomass C (MBC), decreased alkaline phosphomonoesterase (ALP) activity, and changed the total bacterial and phoD-harboring bacterial community composition. Soil total P, Olsen-P, and M3-P were not affected by N fertilization, but there were significant increases in soil total organic P (Po), NaOH-extractable Po, and the proportion of orthophosphate diesters. Redundancy analysis showed that soil pH, organic C, CaCO3, and ALP activity had significant effects on the compositions of soil P form (P < 0.05) and could explain 36.4, 13.3, 27.5, and 10.6% of the total variances observed in the composition of P forms. This suggests that soil acidification from N application in this P-rich calcareous soil altered soil abiotic P cycling processes through increasing the chemical adsorption of Po by Fe and Al. It also altered biotic P cycling processes by increasing microbial P uptake and immobilization and decreasing P biochemical mineralization, resulting in Po accumulation.


N fertilizer Organic P Soil alkaline phosphomonoesterase Alkaline phosphomonoesterase-harboring microorganisms Soil acidification 



We appreciate the assistance of technician Yaonan Wang in the operation of P-NMR to acquire the spectra and the comments of Dr. Luke Bainard on this manuscript.

Funding information

We appreciate the financial support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41601302 and 41571281).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

374_2019_1364_MOESM1_ESM.docx (242 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 242 kb)


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© Crown 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beijing Key Laboratory of Farmland Soil Pollution Prevention-Control and Remediation, College of Resources and Environmental SciencesChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Swift Current Research and Development CentreAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaSwift CurrentCanada

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