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Dissolution rate and agronomic effectiveness of struvite fertilizers – effect of soil pH, granulation and base excess

Degryse, Fien, Baird, Roslyn, da Silva, Rodrigo C., McLaughlin, Mike J.
Plant and soil 2017 v.410 no.1-2 pp. 139-152
acid soils, alkaline soils, chemical analysis, fertilizers, magnesium ammonium phosphate, magnesium oxide, monoammonium phosphate, particle size, phosphorus, soil pH, wastewater, wheat
AIMS: Struvite (MgNH₄PO₄.6H₂O) recovered from wastewater can be used as fertilizer. The agronomic effectiveness of struvite has mostly been evaluated using ground fertilizer mixed through soil. However, fertilizers are most commonly applied in granular form in the field. In this study, we assessed the dissolution and effectiveness of different struvites when applied in granular or powdered form. METHODS: Phosphorus (P) diffusion in soil, determined using a visualization technique and chemical analyses, and P uptake by 6-week old wheat was compared for soluble fertilizer (monoammonium phosphate, MAP), a commercial struvite and three synthesized struvites with different excess MgO, in both granular and ground form. RESULTS: Ground struvite mixed through soil quickly dissolved and its agronomic effectiveness was similar to that of MAP. For pure granular struvite, the granule dissolution rate ranged from circa 0.03 mg d⁻¹ in alkaline soil to 0.43 mg d⁻¹ in acidic soil. Excess base in the struvite fertilizer reduced its dissolution rate. The P uptake by wheat followed the order MAP > > struvite ≥ control (no P), with no significant difference between the control and the struvite treatment in alkaline soil. CONCLUSIONS: Both fertilizer characteristics (particle size, excess base) and soil pH strongly affect the dissolution rate of struvite and hence its agronomic effectiveness.