Interpretations of Elemental and Microbial Phosphorus Indicators to Understand P Availability in Soils Under Rice–Wheat Cropping System


In order to address the scarcity of phosphorus nutrient reserves and the variations usually observed in the P nutrient storage in soils, a long-term experiment was targeted to assess the impact of integrated fertilizer schedule on soil phosphorus pools and ecophysiological ratios of phosphorus element. P-related soil enzymes like acid phosphatase activity and alkaline phosphatase activity were improved by 6.53–15.93% and 6.14–11.41%, respectively, over the recommended dose of fertilization. Addition of FYM recorded highest DHA (45.24 µg TPF released g−1 dry soil h−1) followed by wheat straw (41.25 µg TPF released g−1 dry soil h−1) and green manure (38.98 µg TPF released g−1 dry soil h−1). Integrated fertilizer schedule improved the microbial biomass phosphorus content by 8.97–29.72% as compared to 100% recommended dose through mineral fertilizer. In the integrated system, only 5–7% of the organic phosphorus was ascribed to microbial biomass, reflecting the accumulation of organic P forms. Higher ratio of DHA (0.20) and pyrophosphatase (0.23) to microbial C in integrated treatments confirmed that the enzyme activities were from extracellular enzymes released by microorganisms. The lower ratios of alkaline or acid phosphatase to pyrophosphatase indicate domination of phosphomonoesters in the P pools. These ratios are important to understand the P availability in soil systems especially under the integrated fertilization schedule.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Anderson JPE, Domsch KH (1980) Quantities of plant nutrients in the microbial biomass of selected soils. Soil Sci 130:211–216

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Bajpai RK, Chitale S, Upadhyaya SK, Urkurkar JS (2006) Long-term studies on soil physico-chemical properties and productivity of rice-wheat system as influenced by integrated nutrient management in Inceptisol of Chhattisgarh. J Indian Soc Soil Sci 54:24–29

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Baker A, Ceasar SA, Palmer AJ, Paterson JB, Qi W, Muench SP, Baldwin SA (2015) Replace, reuse, recycle: improving the sustainable use of phosphorus by plants. J Exp Bot 66:3523–3540

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Bedi P, Dubey YP, Datt N (2009) Microbial properties under rice-wheat cropping sequence in an acid Alfisol. J Indian Soc Soil Sci 57:373–377

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Brookes PC, Powlson DS, Jenkinson SD (1982) Measurement of microbial biomass phosphorous in soil. Soil Biol Biochem 14:319–329

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Caldwell BA (2005) Enzyme activities as a component of soil biodiversity: a review. Pedobiologia 49:637–644

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Carstensen A, Herdean A, Schmidt SB, Sharma A, Spetea C, Pribil M, Husted S (2018) The impacts of phosphorus deficiency on the photosynthetic electron transport chain. Plant Physiol 177:271–284

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Chauhan BS, Stewart JWB, Paul EA (1981) Effect of labile inorganic phosphate status and organic carbon additions on the microbial uptake of phosphorus in soils. Can J Soil Sci 61:373–385

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Christine Heuck, Alfons Weig, Marie Spohn (2015) Soil microbial biomass C:N:P stoichiometry and microbial use of organic phosphorus. Soil Biol Biochem 85:119–129

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Condron LM, Tiessen H (2005) Interactions of organic phosphorus in terrestrial ecosystems. In: Turner BL, Frossard E, Baldwin DS (eds) Organic phosphorus in the environment, 1st edn. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 295–307

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Condron LM, Frossard E, Tiessen H, Newman RH, Stewart JWB (1990) Chemical nature of organic phosphorus in cultivated and uncultivated soils under different environmental conditions. J Soil Sci 41:41–50

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Deiss L, de-Moraes A, Maire V (2018) Environmental drivers of soil phosphorus composition in natural ecosystems. Biogeosciences 15:4575–4592

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Dick WA, Tabatabai MA (1978) Inorganic pyrophosphatase activity of soils. Soil Biol Biochem 10:58–65

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Katsalirou E, Deng S, Gerakis A, Nofziger DL (2016) Long-term management effects on soil P, microbial biomass P, and phosphatase activities in prairie soils. Eur J Soil Biol 76:61–69

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Klein DA, Loh TC, Goulding RL (1971) A rapid procedure to evaluate dehydrogenase activity of soils low in organic matter. Soil Biol Biochem 3:385–387

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Lemanowicz J, Bartkowiak A, Breza-Boruta B (2016) Changes in phosphorus content, phosphatase activity and some physicochemical and microbiological parameters of soil within the range of impact of illegal dumping sites in Bydgoszcz (Poland). Environ Earth Sci 75:510

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Li L, Xu M, Eyakub Ali M, Zhang W, Duan Y, Li D (2018) Factors affecting soil microbial biomass and functional diversity with the application of organic amendments in three contrasting cropland soils during a field experiment. PLoS ONE 13(9):e0203812

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Maharjan M, Sanaulla M, Razavi BS, Kuzyakov Y (2017) Effect of land use and management practices on microbial biomass and enzyme activities in subtropical top-and sub-soils. Appl Soil Ecol 113:22–28

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Mallikarjun M, Maity SK (2018) Effect of integrated nutrient management on soil biological properties in Kharif rice. Int J Curr Microbiol Appl Sci 7:1531–1537

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Mandal LN, Mandal KC (1973) Influence of organic matter and lime on the transformation of applied phosphate in acidic lowland rice soils. J Indian Soc Soil Sci 21:57–62

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Margalef O, Sardans J, Fernandez Martinez M, Molowny-Horas R, JanssensIA Ciais P, Richter A, Obersteiner M, Asensio D, Penuelas J (2017) Global patterns of phosphatase activity in natural soils. Sci Rep 7:1337

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    McGill WB, Cole CV (1981) Comparative aspects of cycling of organic C, N, S and P through soil organic matter. Geoderma 26:267–286

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    McLaren TI, Smernik RJ, Simpson RJ, McLaughlin MJ, McBeath TM, Guppy CN, Richardson AE (2015) Spectral sensitivity of solution 31P NMR spectroscopy is improved by narrowing the soil to solution ratio to 1:4 for pasture soils of low organic P content. Geoderma 257–258:48–57

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Mehta NC, Legg JO, Goring CAI, Black CA (1954) Determination of organic phosphorus in soils: I. Extraction methods. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 18:443–449

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Olsen SR, Cole CV, Watanable FS, Dean LA (1954) Estimation of available phosphorus in soil by extraction with sodium bicarbonate. Circular 939:19

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Richardson AE, Simpson RJ (2011) Update on microbial phosphorus. Soil microorganisms mediating phosphorus availability. Plant Physiol 156:989–996

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Richardson AE, Lynch JP, Ryan PR, Delhaize E, Smith FA, Smith SE, Harvey PR, Ryan MH, Veneklaas EJ, Lambers H, Oberson A, Culvenor RA, Simpson RJ (2011) Plant and microbial strategies to improve the phosphorus efficiency of agriculture. Plant Soil 349:121–156

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Riggs CE, Hobbie SE (2016) Mechanisms driving the soil organic matter decomposition response to nitrogen enrichment in grassland soils. Soil Biol Biochem 99:54–65

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Robinson JS, Baumann K, Hu Y, Hagemann P, Kebelmann L, Leinweber P (2018) Phosphorus transformations in plant-based and bio-waste materials induced by pyrolysis. Ambio 47(Suppl 1):73–82

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Schoenau JJ, Stewart JWB, Bettany JR (1989) Forms and cycling of phosphorus in prairie and boreal forest soils. Biogeochemistry 8:223–237

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Stewart JWB, Sharpley AN (eds) (1987) Controls on dynamics of soil and fertilizer phosphorus and sulphur. Soil Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy, Madison, pp 101–121

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Tabatabai MA, Bremner JA (1969) Use of p-nitrophenyl phosphate for assay of soil phosphatase activity. Soil Biol Biochem 1:301–307

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    TahirM Khalid U, Ijaz M, Shah GM, Naeem MA, Shahid M, Mahmood K, Ahmad N, Kareem F (2018) Combined application of bio-organic phosphate and phosphorus solubilizing bacteria (Bacillus strain MWT 14) improve the performance of bread wheat with low fertilizer input under an arid climate. Braz J Microbiol 49S:15–24

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Tang J, Leung A, Leung C, Lim BL (2006) Hydrolysis of precipitated phytate by three distinct families of phytases. Soil Biol Biochem 38:1316–1324

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Thakur R, Sawarkar SD, Kauraw DL, Singh M (2010) Effect of inorganic and organic sources on nutrients availability in a Vertisols. Agropedology 20:53–59

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Timsina J (2018) Can organic sources of nutrients increase crop yields to meet global food demand? Agronomy 8:214

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Turner BL, Condron LM, Richardson SJ, Peltzer DA, Allison VJ (2007) Soil organic phosphorus transformations during pedogenesis. Ecosystems 10:1166–1181

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Vance ED, Brookes PC, Jenkinson DS (1987) An extraction method for measuring soil microbial biomass C. Soil Biol Biochem 19:703–707

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    von Sperber C, Stallforth R, Du Preez C, Amelung W (2017) Changes in soil phosphorus pools during prolonged arable cropping in semiarid grasslands. Eur J Soil Sci 68:462–471

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Zamuner EC, Picone LI, Echeverria HE (2008) Organic and inorganic phosphorus in Mollisol soil under different tillage practices. Soil Till Res 99:131–138

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Zhao S, Zhang S (2018) Linkages between straw decomposition rate and the change in microbial fractions and extracellular enzyme activities in soils under different long-term fertilization treatments. PLoS ONE 13:e0202660

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references


Authors are thankful to the Vice Chancellor, Bihar Agricultural University (BAU), Bhagalpur, Bihar, India, for providing necessary facilities. Special thanks go to the scientists associated with AICRP-IFS, Sabour, and ICAR—Indian Institute of Farming system Research, Modipuram.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rajiv Rakshit.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Singh, C., Rakshit, R., Das, A. et al. Interpretations of Elemental and Microbial Phosphorus Indicators to Understand P Availability in Soils Under Rice–Wheat Cropping System. Agric Res 9, 329–339 (2020).

Download citation


  • Phosphorus
  • Long-term experiment
  • Ecophysiological ratios
  • INM
  • Fertilizer
  • Microbial biomass carbon