Phosphorus removal from soil using Fe oxide-impregnated paper: Processes and applications

A.M.D. Los, E.J.M. Temminghoff, W.D.L. Schenkeveld, T. Hiemstra, W.H. van Riemsdijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Fe oxide-impregnated paper (Pi-paper) is used as an artificial Phosphorus (P) sink to study P availability in soils and runoff. Pi-papers were introduced as they would mimic P uptake by plant roots by decreasing the P concentration in solution to negligibly low levels and thus enhancing P desorption from the soils solid phase. The rate of transfer of P from soil to Pi-paper would thus be limited by the soil P desorption rate. The maximum desorption rate is indeed achieved when the original method is used in which (at least) four Pi-papers per gram soil are placed in a soil suspension (soil–solution ratio of 0.025 kg L- 1). In several studies this method has however been adapted depending on the research question of interest without investigating the effect of this adaptation to the processes involved in the transfer of P from soil to Pi-paper. The aim of this study is to improve our understanding of the processes that occur in the Pi-paper–solution–soil system and so to extend the theoretical basis of this method. Insight is gained in these processes by comparing the experimentally determined P transfer from soil to Pi-paper with P transfer that is modeled based on the measured P concentration in solution and the (kinetic) Langmuir equation of the Pi-paper. P adsorption by a Pi-paper from standard solutions is not instantaneous but can be described with a kinetic Langmuir equation that is a characteristic of the Pi-paper. Over time, the Pi-paper reaches equilibrium with the solution, and the kinetic Langmuir equation can be rewritten to a Langmuir equation. Regardless if there is equilibrium or not, P adsorption to the Pi-paper is a function of the P concentration in solution. By adding Pi-paper to a soil suspension, a re-distribution of P takes place between the reactive surface area of the soil and the new reactive surface area of the Pi-paper that initially contains no adsorbed phosphate. As opposed to the original method where the desorption rate was limiting the overall P transfer, the adsorption rate to the Pi-paper is limiting when one Pi-paper per gram soil is placed in a soil suspension (soil–solution ratio of 0.1 kg L- 1). In this situation, the P concentration in solution is found to be in equilibrium with the soil's solid phase. With increasing contact time (> ~ 24 h) the whole system approaches equilibrium. With each successive Pi-paper newly added, more P is removed from the soil system and the decrease of P in solution will be governed by the soil P desorption isotherm. Varying the number of Pi-papers and the soil to solution ratio thus has a large effect on the transfer rate between soil and Pi-paper and if either the soil desorption rate, the Pi-paper adsorption rate or a combination limits this transfer rate. With increased insight in the P transfer between soil and Pi-paper sink, it becomes possible to tailor the experimental design to help answer the research question one is interested in.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • p-i test
  • filter-paper
  • available phosphorus
  • ionic-strength
  • phosphate
  • adsorption
  • goethite
  • desorption
  • extraction
  • aluminum


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