Plant and Soil

, Volume 386, Issue 1–2, pp 195–204 | Cite as

Diffusion and solubility control of fertilizer-applied zinc: chemical assessment and visualization

  • Fien DegryseEmail author
  • Roslyn Baird
  • Mike J. McLaughlin
Regular Article


Background and aims

Sorption and precipitation reactions reduce the mobility of fertilizer-applied zinc (Zn), and hence reduce availability to plants. Here, we developed a method to visualize diffusion of Zn from fertilizers.


Zinc diffusion was assessed for three fertilizers in three soils of varying pH. The fertilizer (ZnSO4-coated monoammonium phosphate, MAP; ZnSO4-coated diammonium phosphate, DAP; or ZnSO4 alone) was applied in the centre of a Petri dish filled with soil. The Zn diffusion zone was visualized at various incubation times (1, 7 and 18 days) by exposing a CaCO3-impregnated filter paper on the soil surface and colouring the Zn captured on the filter paper using dithizone. The extent of diffusion was also assessed through concentric sampling and chemical analysis of soil sections.


The visualization results agreed with the chemical analyses and demonstrated the effects of soil properties and fertilizer formulation on Zn diffusion. Combining Zn with P fertilizer restricted its diffusion, particularly with DAP fertilizer or in high pH soils. Solubility considerations indicated that this was due to the formation of Zn phosphate minerals.


The visualization method is a useful tool for studying diffusion of Zn from spot applications and allows easy comparison in Zn diffusion between fertilizer sources.


Zinc Phosphorus Fertilizer Soil Solubility Diffusion 



The authors thank the Grains Research and Development Corporation (project UA00111) and the Mosaic fertilizer company for their support, and Bogumila Tomczak, Colin Rivers, Ashleigh Broadbent and Deepika Setia for technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fien Degryse
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roslyn Baird
    • 1
  • Mike J. McLaughlin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Agriculture, Food and WineThe University of AdelaideGlen OsmondAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Agricultural Productivity FlagshipGlen OsmondAustralia

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