Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 147–155 | Cite as

A comparison of triple superphosphate and Gafsa ground rock phosphate fertilisers as P-sources for grass-clover swards on a poorly-drained acid clay soil

  • D. Scholefield
  • R.D. Sheldrick
  • T.M. Martyn
  • R.H. Lavender


Organic farming practice prohibits the use of triple superphosphate (TSP) as a source of phosphorus. As basic slag is not now generally available, interest is focused on the relative value of ground rock phosphate (GRP). A comparison of TSP and Gafsa GRP was made during 1988–92 as to their ability to increase DM production under cutting from newly sown grass/white clover swards established in 1987 on an acid clay soil in SW England. Averaged over the different P fertiliser inputs and years, the DM yield was 8.0 t ha-1 y-1 (range 6.93–9.81) compared to 6.3t ha-1y-1 (range 6.00–7.71) without added P. Lime was added at either 3 or 6t ha-1 in 1987, and at half these rates in 1990. Whereas the yield improved by 45% with P at the lower rate of lime, it improved only by 12% at the higher rate. When P fertiliser was applied annually at 30 kg ha-1, TSP was superior to GRP, but when applied in one initial dose of 120 kg ha-1, GRP was superior over the subsequent 4 year period. There was no consistent effect of the addition of either P or lime on the clover content of the sward. The alkaline bicarbonate soil test (Olsen P) was a good predictor of available P within a given year; there was a general reduction of P availability over the course of the experiment. Mechanisms to explain the longer term effectiveness of GRP are postulated and discussed. It is concluded that farmers who are limited to using GRP rather than TSP would suffer a yield penalty over the longer term of 11.5%, and that P fertilizer for the ley phase in a rotation should be incorporated in one dose at the outset.

bicarbonate-extractable soil phosphorus Lolium perenne - Trifolium repens association organic forage production rock phosphate superphosphate 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Scholefield
    • 1
  • R.D. Sheldrick
    • 1
  • T.M. Martyn
    • 1
  • R.H. Lavender
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Grassland and Environmental ResearchOkehampton, DevonUK

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