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Prediction of wheat response to an application of phosphorus under field conditions using diffusive gradients in thin-films (DGT) and extraction methods


The ability of the Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films (DGT) technique and two other established testing methods (Colwell, resin) to predict wheat responsiveness to applied P from 35 field trials across southern Australia was investigated. Regression analysis of relative early dry matter production and grain yield responses demonstrated that the DGT method predicted plant responsiveness to applied P more accurately than Colwell P and resin P at sites where maximum yields were reached with P rates used (20 out of 35). The measured concentration in soils at the DGT surface, CDGT, explained 74% of the variation in response for both early dry matter and grain, compared to 7% for early dry matter and 35% for grain using the resin P method. No significant relationships could be obtained for Colwell P although modifying the Colwell test data using Phosphorus Buffering Index resulted in a correct response prediction for 11 of the 20 field sites compared to 18 for DGT and 14 for resin P. These observations suggest that the DGT technique can assess plant available P in soils with significantly greater accuracy than traditional soil P testing methods. The critical P threshold, expressed as CDGT, was 255 μg L−1 for early dry matter and 66 μg L−1 for grain.

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Diffusive Gradients in Thin-Films


Phosphorus Buffering Index


Anion Exchange Membrane


Water Holding Capacity


Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer


Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer


Electrical Conductivity


Mixed Binding Layer




Dry Matter


Relative Yield


Growth Stage 30


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This work was supported in part by the Grains Research and Development Corporation project number UA00095. We would like to thank all the collaborators that made the data from the field trials available and the collection of soil samples for analysis. These collaborators include Sandford Gleddie, Rob Velthuis (Novozymes), Bill Bowden (Department of Agriculture, W.A.), Simon Craig (Birchip Cropping Group), John Stutchbury and Associates, Peter Hooper (Hart field site), Roy Latta (Department of Primary Industries, VIC), Neil Fettel (Department of Primary Industries, NSW) and Mark Conyers (Department of Primary Industries, NSW).

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Correspondence to Sean Mason.

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Mason, S., McNeill, A., McLaughlin, M.J. et al. Prediction of wheat response to an application of phosphorus under field conditions using diffusive gradients in thin-films (DGT) and extraction methods. Plant Soil 337, 243–258 (2010).

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  • Nutrient availability
  • Phosphorus deficiency
  • Soil testing
  • Soil fertility