Abstract Extracellular phosphohydrolases mediate the dephosphorylation of phosphoesters and influence bioavailability and loss of agricultural P to the environment to pose risks of impairment of sensitive aquatic ecosystems. Induction and culture of five strains of Aspergillus were conducted to develop a source of high-affinity and robust phosphohydrolases for detecting environmental P and quantifying bioactive P pools in heterogeneous environmental specimens. Enzyme stability and activity against organic P in poultry litter were evaluated in 71 samples collected across poultry producing regions of Arkansas, Maryland, and Oklahoma of the US Differences existed in strains’ adaptability to fermentation medium as they showed a wide range of phytate-degrading activity. Phosphohydrolases from Aspergillus ficuum had highest activity when the strain was cultured on a primarily chemical medium, compared to Aspergillus oryzae which preferred a wheat bran-based organic medium. Kinetics parameters of A. ficuum enzymes ( K m = 210 μM; V max of 407 nmol s −1) indicated phytic acid-degrading potential equivalent to that of commercial preparations. Purified A. ficuum phosphohydrolases effectively quantified litter bioactive P pools, showing that organic P occurred at an average of 54 (±14)% of total P, compared to inorganic phosphates, which averaged 41 (±12)%. Litter management and land application options must consider the high water-extractable and organic P concentrations and the biological availability of the organic enzyme-labile P pool. Robustness of A. ficuum enzymes and simplicity of the in situ ligand-based enzyme assay may thus increase routine assessment of litter bioactive P composition to sense for on-farm accumulation of such environmentally-sensitive P forms.