Changes in the soil phosphorus status of agricultural land in the Netherlands during the 20th century

J.A. Reijneveld, P.A.I. Ehlert, A.J. Termorshuizen, O. Oenema

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55 Citations (Scopus)


The Netherlands has a high cumulative mean phosphorus (P) balance. In the 20th century, cumulative mean P surpluses were ca. 4500 kg P2O5/ha. The annual surpluses have levelled off because of manure application limits from 1984 onwards. We report the effect of soil type, land use, and manure policy on changes in soil P of fields in the Netherlands during the 20th century. We used data (> 5 million soil P tests) from the soil analysis laboratory BLGG AgroXpertus. Our results show that soil P has increased on average to fairly high and high ratings. Differences between regions and between land use have remained high from the first records in the 1930s; on arable land the increase continued until the end of our study period while on grassland no changes are evident in the last decades. In general regions with high livestock density have high soil P status. Soil P increased in the order bulbfields <grassland <arable land <maize land <horticulture, and in the order loess <clay <peat <sand soils. Spatial variations in P values reflect more the market value of the crops and regional availability of animal manure than (fertilizer) recommendations. Manure policy since 1984 has resulted in increasingly tight restrictions on P application from manure and fertilizers, but the effects are not yet clearly reflected in changed trends in soil P.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-411
JournalSoil Use and Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • temporal variability
  • phosphate status
  • nitrogen
  • losses
  • europe
  • trends
  • water
  • dynamics
  • balances
  • quality


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