Alum split applications strengthened phosphorus fixation and phosphate sorption in high legacy phosphorus calcareous soil


Qing Chen , Bingqian Fan , Owen Fenton , Karen Daly , Jiahui Ding , Shuo Chen

DOI:10.1016/j.jes.2020.08.007

Received May 30, 2020,Revised , Accepted August 10, 2020, Available online August 24, 2020

Volume 101,2021,Pages 87-97

High phosphorus (P) saturation arising from historic P inputs to protected vegetable fields (PVFs) drives high P mobilisation to waterbodies. Amendment of soils with alum has shown potential in terms of fixing labile P and protecting water quality. The present 15 month pot experiment investigated P stabilisation across single alum application (Alum-1 treatment, 20 g alum/kg soil incorporated into soil before the maize was sown), alum split applications (Alum-4 treatment, 5 g alum/kg soil incorporated into soil before each crop was sown i.e. 4 × 5 g/kg) and soil only treatment (Control). Results showed that the Alum-1 treatment caused the strongest stabilisation of soil labile P after maize plant removal, whereas the P stabilisation effect was gradually weakened due to the transformation of soil non-labile P to labile P and the reduced active Al3+ in soil solution. For the Alum-4 treatment, soil labile P decreased gradually with each crop planting and was lower than the Alum-1 treatment at the end of the final crop removal, without any impairment on plant growth. The better P stabilisation at the end of Alum-4 treatment was closely correlated with a progressive supply of Al3+ and a gradual decrease of pH, which resulted in higher contents of poorly-crystalline Al, Fe and exchangeable Ca. These aspects were conducive to increasing the soil P stabilisation and phosphate sorption. In terms of management, growers in continuous cropping systems could utilise split alum applications as a strategy to alleviate P losses in high-P enriched calcareous soil.

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