Thresholds of target phosphorus fertility classes in European fertilizer recommendations in relation to critical soil test phosphorus values derived from the analysis of 55 European long-term field experiment

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Steinfurth, K., Borjesson, G., Denoroy, P., Eichler-Lobermann, B., Gans, W., Heyn, J., Hirte, J., Huyghebaert, B., Jouany, C., Koch, D., Merbach, I., Mokry, M., Mollier, A., Morel, C., Panten, K., Peiter, E., Poulton, P. R., Reitz, T., Rubaek, G. H., Spiegel, H., Van Laak, M., Von Tucher, S. and Buczko, U. 2022. Thresholds of target phosphorus fertility classes in European fertilizer recommendations in relation to critical soil test phosphorus values derived from the analysis of 55 European long-term field experiment. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 332, p. 107926. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2022.107926

AuthorsSteinfurth, K., Borjesson, G., Denoroy, P., Eichler-Lobermann, B., Gans, W., Heyn, J., Hirte, J., Huyghebaert, B., Jouany, C., Koch, D., Merbach, I., Mokry, M., Mollier, A., Morel, C., Panten, K., Peiter, E., Poulton, P. R., Reitz, T., Rubaek, G. H., Spiegel, H., Van Laak, M., Von Tucher, S. and Buczko, U.
Abstract

Phosphorus (P) fertilizer recommendations of individual countries may differ in many aspects, but often the main principle is to reach or maintain a target range of plant-available P in soil. Within this target P fertility class, the soil is expected to supply enough P to the crop, while P fertilization replaces what is exported by the harvested crop. However, the threshold values of the target P fertility classes are based on a multitude of different soil test P (STP) methods and vary by a factor of up to three, even for countries using the same STP method. This study aimed to provide a comparison of the thresholds of target P fertility classes of different European countries and critical soil test P values (Pcrit; STP below which the average relative yield falls below 95% due to P insufficiency) derived from the analysis of data from 55 long-term field experiments in eight European countries. To overcome the issue of diverging STP methods, all values were converted to Olsen-P using empirically based conversion equations from the literature. Converted threshold values varied by a factor of up to five. For the experimental data, we fitted multi-level Mitscherlich-type models to determine Pcrit values of unfertilized soils corresponding to 95% of maximum yield. We found an average Olsen-Pcrit value of 15 mg P kg−1 (adj. R² = 0.37; RMSE = 14.1% relative yield; n = 2368; 55 experiments), which lies far below several country-specific thresholds of target P fertility classes. Crop-specific analyses resulted in higher Olsen-Pcrit values for sugar beet (22 mg P kg−1), potato (19 mg P kg−1) and winter rapeseed (18 mg P kg−1). Among the texture classes (loam, sand, silt and clay), sandy soils exhibited the highest average Olsen-Pcrit value (22 mg P kg−1). We consider a reevaluation of extraordinarily high country-specific thresholds as well as an inclusion of crop type and soil texture (where not already implemented) to be a reasonable measure towards more cost-effective and environment-friendly P fertilization.

KeywordsPhosphorus; Olsen-P; Critical soil test P; P fertilization; Fertilizer recommendation
Year of Publication2022
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Journal citation332, p. 107926
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2022.107926
Open accessPublished as green open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeThe Rothamsted Long Term Experiments [2017-2022]
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online03 Mar 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted20 Feb 2022
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
ISSN0167-8809

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