Soil Science Society of America

Phytoextraction of Phosphorus-enriched grassland soils

Received for publication February 7, 2008. High soil P contents in agricultural soils in the Netherlands cause excessive losses of P to surface waters. The reductions in P application rates in the present manure policy are not sufficient to reach surface water quality standards resulting from the European Water Framework Directive in 2015. Accordingly, additional measures are necessary to reduce P loading to surface water. Greenhouse experiments showed that a rapid reduction in soluble P and readily available soil P can be obtained by zero P application. However, field data confirming these findings are scarce. In 2002 a phytoextraction experiment started on four grasslands sites on sand, peat, and clay soils. The phytoextraction (mining) plots receive no P and 300 kg N ha–1 yr–1 and the grass is removed by mowing. The experiment showed that zero P application, over a period of 5 yr, led to a strong (30–90%) reduction in P concentrations in soil solution in the upper soil layer (0–0.05 m). The reduction in concentrations declined with depth. Mining also resulted in a decline in P pools in the soil solid phase. The largest decline (10–60%) was found in weakly bound P pools (water extractable P; Pw, and ammonium lactate extractable P; P-AL), whereas reductions in more strongly bound P forms were relatively small. It may be concluded that phytoextraction appears an effective method of reducing soil P concentrations in the uppermost soil layers in a couple of years and prolonged mining may thus be effective in reducing leaching and runoff of P.

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