Plant and Soil

, Volume 314, Issue 1–2, pp 243–252 | Cite as

Exchangeability of orthophosphate and pyrophosphate in soils: a double isotopic labelling study

  • T. M. McBeath
  • E. Lombi
  • M. J. McLaughlin
  • E. K. Bünemann
Regular Article


Liquid polyphosphate fertilisers have shown advantages in field experiments as a phosphorus (P) source for crops grown on calcareous soils. Polyphosphate fertilisers contain orthophosphate (oP), pyrophosphate (pP) and other condensed P species. A double labelling technique was developed using ion chromatography for separation of oP and pP, the major P species in polyphosphate fertilisers, in order to measure the isotopically exchangeable oP, pP and hydrolysed pP. Isotopically exchangeable P was measured in soils incubating for zero, three and 7 days after applying oP or pP to simulate a fertiliser band concentration at one g P kg−1 soil. The data from this incubation study suggest that pP addition initially resulted in less isotopically exchangeable P than oP addition but there was no significant difference in the total isotopically exchangeable P for the two different P sources after 7 days of incubation. The addition of pP to soil resulted in an increase in iron, aluminium and dissolved organic carbon in soil solution, and a decrease in calcium concentration in soil solution. This study has shown that the availability of P added as pP is governed by a complex series of processes that differ from the chemistry of oP reactions in soil.


Fertilisers Lability Polyphosphate Calcareous soils 



ion chromatography


partitioning coefficient






radioactivity introduced


radioactivity remaining in solution


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. M. McBeath
    • 1
  • E. Lombi
    • 2
    • 4
  • M. J. McLaughlin
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. K. Bünemann
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Soil and Land Systems, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of AdelaideGlen OsmondAustralia
  2. 2.Land and WaterCSIROGlen OsmondAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Plant SciencesSwiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH)LindauSwitzerland
  4. 4.Plant and Soil Science Laboratory, Department of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark

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