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Agronomic evaluation of modified phosphate rock products

IFDS's experience

Abstract

Phosphorus (P) is critically needed to improve the soil fertility for crop production in large areas of developing countries. The high cost of conventional, water-soluble P fertilizers constrains their use by resource-poor farmers. Finely ground phosphate rock (PR) has been tested and used as a direct application fertilizer on tropical acid soils as a low-cost alternative where indigenous deposits of PR are located. However, direct application of PR with low reactivity or with inappropriate soil/crop combinations does not always give satisfactory results. Partial acidulation of PR (PAPR) or compaction with triple superphosphate (PR + TSP) or single superphosphate (PR + SSP) represent technologies that can be used to produce highly effective P fertilizers from those indigenous deposits. Numerous field trials conducted by IFDC in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America have demonstrated that PAPR at 40-50% acidulation with H2SO4 or at 20% with H3PO4 approaches the effectiveness of SSP or TSP in certain tropical soils and crops. This paper discusses how the agronomic effectiveness of PAPR is affected by mineralogical composition and reactivity of PR used and by soil properties and soil reactions. The paper also indicates that if a PR has high Fe2O3 + Al2O3 content, it may not be suitable for PAPR processing because of the reversion of water-soluble P to water-insoluble P during the PAPR manufacturing process. Under these conditions, compaction of PR with water-soluble P fertilizers (e.g. SSP, TSP) at P ratio of approximately 50:50 can be agronomically and economically attractive for utilizing the indigenous PRs in developing countries.

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Chien, S.H., Menon, R.G. Agronomic evaluation of modified phosphate rock products. Fertilizer Research 41, 197–209 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00748309

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Key words

  • agronomic effectiveness
  • compacted phosphate rock with superphosphate
  • partially acidulated phosphate rock