The fate of applied phosphorus on a piedmont soil and its effect on loblolly pine growth twenty years after application

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

A loblolly pine phosphorus fertilization trial was evaluated 20 years after establishment on a Tatum silt loam in the Virginia Piedmont. Triple superphosphate (TSP) was applied at 160 kg P/ha and ground rock phosphate (GRP) was applied at both 160 kg P/ha and 670 kg P/ha. Lime (4.48 T/ha) was applied with and without the TSP treatment. Tree growth was not significantly affected by treatment and foliar phosphorus levels were above 0.10% indicating that a deficiency was not the immediate growth limiting factor. Double-acid-extractable soil phosphorus critical levels established for the Coastal Plain do not appear useful for diagnosing tree requirements for this Piedmont soil. A critical level of 1.0 ppm double-acid-extractable phosphorus would be more applicable to this soil. GRP was more effective than TSP after 20 years at increasing phosphorus uptake, probably due to a slower dissolution rate and the inclusion of F-ions which reacted with soil Al to reduce phosphorus fixation. Although an increase in the A horizon pH persisted for 20 years, there was no increase in phosphorus uptake as a direct response to this higher pH. Liming may have some long-term merit when applied in conjunction with a water soluble phosphorus fertilizer such as TSP by reducing the transformations of applied phosphorus to unavailable forms.