Dolomite and Micronutrient Fertilizer Affect Phosphorus Fate in Pine Bark Substrate used for Containerized Nursery Crop Production


Dolomite and a micronutrient fertilizer are routinely incorporated into a pine bark-based soilless substrate when producing containerized nursery crops, yet the effect of these amendments on phosphorus (P) is not well understood. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of dolomite and micronutrient fertilizer amendments on P partitioning among four P fractions (i.e., orthophosphate-P EOM non-orthophosphate dissolved P [NODP], total dissolved P [TDP], and particulate P (PPJ) and to model potential P species in leachate of pine bark substrate. Amendment treatments incorporated into bark at experiment initiation included (1) a control (no fertilizer, dolomite, or micronutrient fertilizer), (2) controlled-release fertilizer (CRF), (3) CRF and dolomite, (4) CRF and micronutrient fertilizer, or (5) CRF, dolomite, and micronutrient fertilizer. Phosphorus fractions in leachate of irrigated pine bark columns were determined at eight sampling times over 48 days. Amending pine bark with dolomite and micronutrient fertilizer reduced leachate OP concentrations by 70% when averaged across sampling dates primarily due to retention of OP in the substrate by dolomite. The NODP fraction was unaffected by amendments, and the response of TDP was similar to that of OP. Particulate P was present throughout the study and was strongly correlated particulate Fe and DOC concentrations. Visual MINTEQ indicated MnHPO4 and Ca-5(PO4)(3)(OH) were consistently saturated with respect to their solid phase in treatments containing CRF. Results of this study suggest amending pine bark with dolomite and micronutrients is a best management practice for reducing P leaching from containerized nurseries.