Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 1–8 | Cite as

Comparing of the difference and balance methods to calculate percent recovery of fertilizer phosphorus applied to soils: a critical discussion

  • S. H. Chien
  • F. J. Sikora
  • R. J. Gilkes
  • M. J. McLaughlin
Review Article


This article presents a critical discussion comparing the traditional method and a newly proposed balance method to calculate percent recovery of fertilizer P applied to soils. The traditional difference method is defined as P uptake from the soil treated with fertilizer P minus P uptake from a control with no P added divided by the amount of fertilizer P applied. The balance method simply considers the ratio of P uptake from the P fertilized soil to the amount of fertilizer P applied and does not use a control to discount P taken up from soil without fertilizer application. The percentage recovery of fertilizer P calculated by the difference method normally ranges from 10 to 25% for a given crop in a given season and is always lower than that by the balance method which ranges from 50 to 90% and is sometimes over 100%. The balance method is inappropriate to calculate percentage recovery of current fertilizer P applied due to its overestimation and the invalidity of the mathematical equation used. The difference method is superior to the balance method to estimate percentage recovery of fertilizer P applied. The balance method is suitable for determining a percent soil P balance to evaluate if fertilizer P applications are building up, depleting, or maintaining soil P reserves.


Percentage recovery of fertilizer P Difference and balance methods Initial and residual P effects Percentage of soil P balance P use efficiency 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. H. Chien
    • 1
    • 2
  • F. J. Sikora
    • 3
  • R. J. Gilkes
    • 4
  • M. J. McLaughlin
    • 5
  1. 1.International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)Muscle ShoalsUSA
  2. 2.FlorenceUSA
  3. 3.University of Kentucky, PSSLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Soil Science and Plant NutritionUniversity of Western, AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  5. 5.CSIRO, Land and WaterGlen OsmondAustralia

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