Effects of iron, calcium, and organic matter on phosphorus behavior in fluvo-aquic soil: farmland investigation and aging experiments

Yuling Ma, Jie Ma*, Hao Peng, Liping Weng, Yali Chen, Yongtao Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Excessive fertilization has led to a high risk of phosphorus (P) leaching and related problems in the North China Plain, where the most typical cropland soil is fluvo-aquic soil. The main factors controlling environmental P behavior and the acting time sequence of these factors in soil after long-term P fertilizer application have not been well recognized. A clear understanding is essential for effective P management. Materials and methods: Effects of Fe minerals, calcium carbonate, and organic matter (OM) on P immobilization in fluvo-aquic soil were studied systematically through farmland investigation and aging experiments. Results and discussion: Phosphorus associated with Ca was the primary fraction in fluvo-aquic soil. Even though there was no significant correlation between the total contents of P and Ca in soils, formation of P-Ca phases facilitated by Ca2+ in soil solution was a mechanism of P retention when soil received excess P fertilizer. Positive correlations between the contents of P and Fe and total organic carbon (TOC) indicate that Fe minerals and OM have significant effects on P immobilization. Through the aging experiments, P was found to primarily adsorb on goethite and gradually forms Ca-P compounds. Organic fertilizer caused P release and inhibition of P adsorption in the initial stages; however, OM derived from organic fertilizer might facilitate P immobilization in the long term through the formation of a P-Ca-OM complex. Conclusions: Although superfluous application of P fertilizers leads to the gradual formation of Ca-P in fluvo-aquic soils, there is still a risk of P loss because P is not immediately adsorbed by Fe minerals. Moreover, application of organic fertilizers increases the risk of P loss. These results provide an important scientific basis for initiating P management policies for fluvo-aquic soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3994–4004
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number12
Early online date29 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Calcium carbonate
  • Fe mineral
  • Fluvo-aquic soil
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Phosphorus fractions
  • Phosphorus immobilization


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