Phosphorus

Farmer: Ian Lutey - Cambridgeshire

Ian's Question for the FarmPEP community - Please comment any responses or thoughts:

How is it best to manage phosphate availability in clay soils, with high calcium content? Organic, inorganic, foliar feeds or soil reserves?

Phosphate pollution is very topical at the moment but as phosphate doesn't move very far, surely this is a soil erosion issue rather than necessarily a result of over application of phosphate fertilisers (assuming soil indices around recommended levels). 

Land drainage and therefore water movement and holding capacity of the soil must also be a big influence on the soils ability to hold phosphate and its availability to the plant roots.

 

See attached article from ADAS crop physiologist Roger Sylvester-Bradley

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Soil is an essential natural resource for all farmers. Over recent years many initiatives have sought to provide information and advice on soils and Soil Health, notably AHDB Great Soils. 

Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for both plants and animals, playing a key role in energy transfer as a major component of ATP. It is also vital in DNA. For full capture & conversion of solar energy, crop canopies need 30-40 kg/ha P. Crop species redistribute most of this P (~85%; more than for any other nutrient) to their seeds during canopy senescence, where it is stored as phytate. Plants appear to do this because, until their roots proliferate, plant seedlings are highly sensitive to P shortages.

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Soil is a major source of nutrients needed by plants for growth.