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Phosphorus saturation of a tropical soil and related P leaching caused by poultry litter addition

Abdala, Dalton Belchior, Ghosh, Amlan Kumar, da Silva, Ivo Ribeiro, de Novais, Roberto Ferreira, Alvarez Venegas, Victor Hugo
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2012 v.162 pp. 15-23
Oxisols, carbon, costs and returns, edaphic factors, exchangeable aluminum, fertilizer rates, land application, land management, leaching, losses from soil, phosphorus, poultry manure, risk, soil analysis, soil depth, soil pH, soil solution, soil treatment, sorption, surface water, tropical soils, Brazil
Phosphorus deficiency is well known as a major agronomic constraint in the highly weathered Oxisols of Brazil and reasonable economic returns are not possible without application of high rates of phosphorus. Poultry litter, which is enriched in P, is increasingly being used in organic management of cultivated lands. Due to the great P fixing capacity of these soils, any limit to the soil sink of P is not recognized. The study was undertaken to evaluate the risk of P loss due to increase in phosphorus sorption saturation (PSS) from land application of poultry litter and to establish a relationship between PSS and water soluble phosphorus. No till corn-fallow rotation was followed for three years with annual application of 0, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100Mgha⁻¹ of poultry litter in a highly weathered clayey dystrophic red-yellow Argisol of Brazil. The effect of poultry litter application on soil was evaluated and Mehlich-3 P (PM₋₃) concentrations increased 3–134 times over control after three years of poultry litter application. Poultry litter application increased pH and decreased the concentration of exchangeable Al; whereas concentrations of K⁺, Na⁺, Zn²⁺, Mg²⁺ and Ca²⁺ increased substantially over control. Increase in soil pH and total organic carbon due to poultry litter application reduced the P sorption capacity of soils and P sorption. The PSS increased considerably at higher rates of poultry litter application (>10Mgha⁻¹) and strongly increased the amount of desorbable P. Total water extractable P was mostly accounted for by reactive P forms and increased with poultry litter rates. In a plot of dissolved reactive P (DRP) against PSS, a change point was observed at 22.7% PSS corresponding to a dissolved reactive P (DRP) concentration of 0.92mgkg⁻¹ soil after which a sharp increase in DRP was observed. P concentration >0.1mgL⁻¹ was observed in soil solution at 60cm soil depth with increasing rates of poultry litter application, thus providing evidence of P leaching. In the absence of an environmental soil test criteria for P, the break point PSS of 22.7% could be used to practically monitor whether soils have reached a level of P loading that constitutes an environmental risk of P losses from soil to surface and ground waters.