Phosphorus in agriculture: a review of results from 175 years research at Rothamsted, UK

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Poulton, P. R. and Johnston, A. E. 2019. Phosphorus in agriculture: a review of results from 175 years research at Rothamsted, UK. Journal of Environmental Quality.

AuthorsPoulton, P. R. and Johnston, A. E.

Insight into the role of phosphorus (P) in soil fertility and crop nutrition has come from long-term field experiments initially started by J.B. Lawes at Rothamsted in 1843 and continued by others together with experiments on different soils. From the 1940s, results have refuted a widely held view that P residues were irreversibly fixed in soil. Rather, such residues build-up a reserve of plant-available P (Olsen P), and there is a strong relationship between crop yield and Olsen P. The critical level of Olsen P, determined from this relationship, is the level at which soils should be maintained to optimise P-use efficiency, which, for applied P, is high when the amount applied nearly equals offtake by the crop. This reserve of inorganic P is associated with a variety of soil components and held with a range of bonding energies, such that when no P is applied the decline in Olsen P follows a smooth curve. Based on the accumulated information, inorganic P in soil can be conceptualised as being in four pools of vastly varying size, availability for uptake and extractability by reagents used in routine soil analysis, and with reversible transfer of P between the pools.

KeywordsP research; long-term experiments; Olsen P; crop response
Year of Publication2019
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.2134/jeq2019.02.0078
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeThe Rothamsted Long Term Experiments [2017-2022]
Publisher's version
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusE-publication ahead of print
Publication dates
Online01 Aug 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted21 Jun 2019
Copyright licenseCC BY
PublisherAmerican Society of Agronomy (ASA)

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