Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 101, Issue 2, pp 153–165 | Cite as

Tillage and rotational effects on exchangeable and enzyme-labile phosphorus forms in conventional and organic cropping systems

  • Thanh H. Dao
  • H. H. Schomberg
  • M. A. Cavigelli
Original Article


Transformations of crop residues and bio-fertilizers, used as primary sources of nutrients for organic crop production are influenced by soil management practices. The release and distribution of labile phosphorus (P) forms were studied in three organic and two conventional crop management systems after 18 years. Spatial variability and stratification in inorganic P (Pi), organic, and total P in the top 20-cm depth showed that reducing accumulation and potential transport of exchangeable inorganic (EEPi) and enzyme-labile organic P (EDTA-PHP), that averaged 17.2 and 40.4 mg kg−1, remained a high priority in chisel-till and no-till soils. In the organic systems, annualized rates of P addition were within soil test recommendations. However, P surpluses, likely caused by yield-limiting conditions and overestimates of plant P requirements, resulted in large pools of EEPi and EDTA-PHP, averaging 30.9 and 68.2 mg kg−1, respectively. Soil drying and rewetting enhanced extractability of all labile P forms, which included a 2.4- to 3-fold increase in EEPi. Differences in P loading between conventional and organic treatments suggested that new soil tests may be needed to assess crop needs in organic systems since current procedures do not account for presence and size of the EDTA-PHP pool. The impact of large P loadings is long-lived as these additions continued to contribute to elevated bioactive P concentrations 12 or more years later. Accurate estimates of crop requirements and lability of soil P pools, and real-time plant and soil P sensing systems are critical considerations to optimally manage manure-derived nutrients in organic production systems.


Enzyme-labile phosphorus Soil organic P Phosphorus fractionation Conventional tillage No-tillage Organic farming Sustainable nutrient management 



Ligand-exchangeable inorganic P


Ligand-exchangeable phosphohydrolase-labile P


Total bioactive P


Ethylenediamine-N, N, N′, N′-tetraacetate



The authors sincerely acknowledged the technical assistance of G. Stone, C. Rasmann, and A. Conklin, USDA-ARS during this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thanh H. Dao
    • 1
  • H. H. Schomberg
    • 1
  • M. A. Cavigelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Beltsville Agricultural Research CenterUSDA, ARSBeltsvilleUSA

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