We assessed and quantified the cumulative impact of 20 years of biomass management on the nature and bioavailability of soil phosphorus (P) accumulated from antecedent fertiliser inputs.
Soil (0–2.5, 2.5–5, 5–10 cm) and plant samples were taken from replicate plots in a grassland field experiment maintained for 20 years under contrasting plant biomass regimen- biomass retained or removed after mowing. Analyses included dry matter production and P uptake, root biomass, total soil carbon (C), total nitrogen (N), total P, soil P fractionation, and 31P NMR spectroscopy.
Contemporary plant production and P uptake were over 2-fold higher for the biomass retained compared with the biomass removed regimes. Soil C, total P, soluble and labile forms of inorganic and organic soil P were significantly higher under biomass retention than removal.
Reserves of soluble and labile inorganic P in soil were significantly depleted in response to continued long-term removal of P in plant biomass compared to retention. However, this was only sufficient to sustain plant production at half the level observed for the biomass retention after 20 years, which was partly attributed to limited mobilisation of organic P in response to P removal.
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Lincoln University is responsible for the establishment and ongoing maintenance of the long-term ecology field trial. The senior author of this study was financially supported by the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC) through the CAPES agency (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior). We thank Zach Simpson for advice on statistics.
Responsible Editor: Phil Haygarth
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Boitt, G., Black, A., Wakelin, S.A. et al. Impacts of long-term plant biomass management on soil phosphorus under temperate grassland. Plant Soil 427, 163–174 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-017-3429-0
- Legacy phosphorus
- Phosphorus depletion
- Soil phosphorus fractionation
- 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy