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Evaluation of H3A for Determination of Plant Available P vs. FeAlO Strips

Richard L. Haney, Elizabeth B. Haney, R. Daren Harmel, Douglas R. Smith, Mike J. White
Open journal of soil science 2016 v.06 no.11 pp. 175-187
agricultural soils, buffering capacity, crop production, eutrophication, fertilizers, nutrient availability, phosphorus, plant growth, root exudates, runoff, soil analysis, soil pH, statistical analysis, water quality, United States
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant growth but in excess is a source of environmental pollution. Fertilizer additions of P are recommended based on soil tests; however, the commonly applied P extractants are often applied outside of their design criteria (specifically soil pH). As a result, soil tests can produce inaccurate estimates of plant available P in the soil, which either increases P loss in runoff contributing to eutrophication or decreases crop production contributing to economic loss. In this study, 200 diverse soils from across the US were extracted with Mehlich 3, water, H3A-3, and FeAlO strips. Comparison with FeAlO was critical, as this method is accepted as the “gold standard” for plant-available P, but it is rarely used in commercial labs because of time and financial constraints. H3A-3 produced mean, median, standard deviations that are very similar to FeAlO strip results and low relative errors (< 10%), as well as highly correlated regression relationships (r2 > 0.96 with slopes 0.95-0.98). Although Mehlich 3 and water were correlated with FeAlO, Mehlich 3 (strongly acidic) extracted much more P than FeAlO, and water (low buffering capacity) extracted much less P across the range of soil pH values. Thus, H3A-3 provides an improved methodology to accurately determine plant-available P by mimicking root exudate action in the soil, while avoiding the time-consuming and costly FeAlO procedure. In the face of high-profile water quality impairments with enormous economic costs, such advancements are critical to balance agronomic production with environmental concerns.