The long-term residual value of rock phosphate and superphosphate fertilizers for various plant species under field conditions
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In three, long-term field experiments on different lateritic soils in south-western Australia, the effectiveness of superphosphate and rock phosphate fertilizers applied 10 years (one experiment) or 4 years previously was measured relative to the effectiveness of freshly-applied superphosphate (relative effectiveness or RE) using several different plant species. For the species comparisons, RE values were estimated using the initial slope of the relationship between yield and the level of P applied. In addition, RE values were also determined for different levels of application to test whether RE values for previously-applied fertilizer changed with increasing level of application. Soil samples were collected 3–5 months before sowing for a soil test for phosphate (P) and the soil test values were related to plant yields measured later that year.
At each site, the RE value of previously-appliedrock phosphate was calculated using initial slopes and was mostly consistently low and was similar (0.04–0.18) for all plant species. The exceptions were that the RE value about doubled for barley in one experiment and for another experiment the effectiveness of calcined (heated) C-grade ore (Calciphos) was about 2–3 times that of the untreated (i.e. unheated) fertilizer. In most cases, the RE value of previously appliedsuperphosphate at each site was similar (0.23–0.34) regardless of plant species. The exceptions were that the RE value was about double for barley in one experiment and about half for triticale in another. Rock phosphates applied 4 or 10 years previously were between about one twentieth to one quarter as effective as freshly applied superphosphate. Superphosphate applied 4 or 10 years previously was between about a quarter to one third as effective as freshly-applied superphosphate. At each site, the yield of each species was closely related to the P content of plant tissue and the relationship was independent of the fertilizer type or when the fertilizer was applied.
At each site and for each plant species, the RE value of the previously-applied rock phosphate was estimated for different levels of application and generally decreased with increasing level of application, whereas the RE value for previously-applied superphosphate mostly remained approximately constant.
At each site, the relationship between yield and soil test values (i.e. soil test for P calibrations) differed depending on the fertilizer type and the plant species.
Key wordsRock phosphates superphosphate residual value relative effectiveness plant species soil test for phosphate field experiments
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