Water soluble phosphate fertilizers for crops grown in calcareous soils – an outdated paradigm for recycled phosphorus fertilizers?
Background and aims
The current paradigm for phosphorus (P) fertilizers applied to calcareous soil is that almost entirely water soluble P fertilizers are efficient and sparingly soluble P fertilizers are not efficient P sources for crops. We hypothesize that this paradigm does not apply to recycled P fertilizers and that other P pools can explain the plant use of recycled P fertilizers on calcareous soil.
We applied 33P isotopic dilution method to evaluate recycled P fertilizers based on plant P uptake from fertilizer relative to plant uptake from a water soluble P reference fertilizer. The predictability of fertilizer effectiveness based on sequentially extracted P forms and X-ray diffraction pattern of recycled fertilizers derived from sewage sludge, human urine and organic waste was evaluated.
The plant experiments showed that tested recycled P fertilizers including compost were more effective than rock phosphate. The water insoluble P contained in urine based products was almost as effective as a fully water soluble P fertilizer. The tested recycled P fertilizers are characterized by complex P compounds differing in solubility which were so far not considered in the water and citric acid extraction methods. The fraction of resin- and NaHCO3 extractable fertilizer P explained effectiveness of P fertilizer applied to the calcareous and to an acidic soil.
We concluded that water solubility is not required when P forms in recycled products are comparable to reactions products of rock phosphate based fertilizers in soil. Alternatives to fully water soluble P fertilizers are available to supply P to crops grown on calcareous soil efficiently.
KeywordsPhosphorus Calcareous soil Isotopic dilution Recycled fertilizer Sequential fractionation Fertilizer effectiveness
Calcium silicate hydrate phosphate
Organic waste based solid digestate, dried
Organic waste based solid digestate, composted
Phosphorus derived from
Sewage sludge ash
Urine calcium full nutrient
Urine calcium phosphate
Water soluble P
We acknowledge the help of Brian Sinnet from Eawag with XRD analysis and Laurie Mauclaire-Schönholzer, Iris Huber and Eric Vogelsanger for their help with analyses and the plant growth experiments. We thank Jacques Fuchs from FiBL Switzerland for having provided the contact to the biogas plant in Pratteln, Switzerland. We also thank Wolfgang Ewert and Andreas Lengemann from Berliner Wasserbetriebe Wassmannsdorf, Germany, and Anke Ehbrecht from the Karlsruher Institute of Technology (KIT) for providing their recycled P products. Finally, we acknowledge the financial support of the CORE Organic II Funding Bodies, being partners of the FP7 ERA-Net project, CORE Organic II (Coordination of European Transnational Research in Organic Food and Farming systems, project no. 249667). We also thank N.J. Barrow and the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.
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