Original Article

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 229-255

First online:

Agronomic and environmental aspects of phosphate fertilizers varying in source and solubility: an update review

  • S. H. ChienAffiliated withFormerly affiliated with IFDC Email author 
  • , L. I. ProchnowAffiliated withIPNI Brazil Program
  • , S. TuAffiliated withIPNI Southwest China Region
  • , C. S. SnyderAffiliated withIPNI Nitrogen Program

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This review discusses and summarizes the latest reports regarding the agronomic utilization and potential environmental effects of different types of phosphate (P) fertilizers that vary in solubility. The agronomic effectiveness of P fertilizer can be influenced by the following factors: (1) water and citrate solubility; (2) chemical composition of solid water-soluble P (WSP) fertilizers; (3) fluid and solid forms of WSP fertilizers; and (4) chemical reactions of P fertilizers in soils. Non-conventional P fertilizers are compared with WSP fertilizers in terms of P use efficiency in crop production. Non-conventional P fertilizers include directly applied phosphate rock (PR), partially acidulated PR (PAPR), and compacted mixtures of PR and WSP. The potential impacts of the use of P fertilizers from both conventional (fully acidulated) and non-conventional sources are discussed in terms of (1) contamination of soils and plants with toxic heavy metals, such as cadmium (Cd), and (2) the contribution of P runoff to eutrophication. Best practices of integrated nutrient management should be implemented when applying P fertilizers to different cropping systems. The ideal management system will use appropriate sources, application rates, timing, and placement in consideration of soil properties. The goal of P fertilizer use should be to optimize crop production without causing environmental problems.


Phosphate fertilizers Agronomic effectiveness Cadmium P runoff Eutrophication