Phosphorus exchangeability and leaching losses from two grassland soils
Sinaj, S.; Stamm, C.; Toor, G.; Condron, Leo M.; Hendry, Trevor B.; Di, Hong J.; Cameron, Keith C.; Frossard, E.
Although phosphate phosphorus (P) is strongly sorbed in many soils, it may be quickly transported through the soil by preferential flow. Under flood irrigation, preferential flow is especially pronounced and associated solute losses may be important. Phosphorus losses induced by flood irrigation were investigated in a lysimeter study. Detailed soil chemical analyses revealed that P was very mobile in the topsoil, but the higher P-fixing capacity of the subsoil appeared to restrict P mobility. Application of a dye tracer enabled preferential flow pathways to be identified. Soil sampling according to dye staining patterns revealed that exchangeable P was significantly greater in preferential flow areas as compared with the unstained soil matrix. This could be partly attributed to the accumulation of organic carbon and P, together with enhanced leaching of Al- and Fe-oxides in the preferential flow areas, which resulted in reduced P sorption. The irrigation water caused a rapid hydrologic response by displacement of resident water from the subsoil. Despite the occurrence of preferential flow, most of the outflowing water was resident soil water and very low in P. In these soils the occurrence of preferential flow per se is not sufficient to cause large P losses even if the topsoil is rich in P. It appears that the P was retained in lower parts of the soil profile characterized by a very high P-fixing capacity. This study demonstrates the risks associated with assessing potential P losses on the basis of P mobility in the topsoil alone.... [Show full abstract]