Limiting the use of phosphorous (P) in intensive agriculture is necessary to decrease losses to surface waters. Balanced fertilizer application (P supply equals P offtake by the crop) is a first step to limit the use of P. However, it is questioned whether this balance approach is sufficient to maintain soil fertility. A long-term field experiment (17 yr), on grazed grassland, has been conducted on sandy soil, marine clay soil and peat soil to obtain insight into the effects of balanced P fertilizer application on soil test P values and to explain the results by changes in P pools in the soil. The balance approach led to a gradual decline in plant available P, measured as P-AL, in the topsoil (<0.10 m deep). This decline was accompanied by a decline in oxalate extractable P, dithionite extractable P and inorganic P (0.5 m H2SO4). The decline in these mineral P pools in the topsoil was (partly) compensated by an increase in the amount of organic P. There was evidence for the accumulation of P in an occluded form, especially at one of sites which received P as Gafsa rock phosphate [Ca3(PO4)2].
- balanced fertilizer application
- long-term experiments
- soil P balance
- Soil test P