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Critical plant and soil phosphorus for wheat, maize, and rapeseed after 44 years of P fertilization

  • Cadot, Selma1
  • Bélanger, Gilles2
  • Ziadi, Noura2
  • Morel, Christian3
  • Sinaj, Sokrat1
  • 1 Agroscope, Plant Production Systems, Nyon, 1260, Switzerland , Nyon (Switzerland)
  • 2 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Québec Research and Development Centre, Quebec, G1V 2J3, Canada , Quebec (Canada)
  • 3 Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), UMR 1391 ISPA, CS 20032, Villenave-d’Ornon Cedex, 33882, France , Villenave-d’Ornon Cedex (France)
Published Article
Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Oct 10, 2018
DOI: 10.1007/s10705-018-9956-0
Springer Nature


Phosphorus (P) crop fertilization requires optimal management to avoid the waste of a non-renewable resource and water pollution, but current methods for assessing soil phyto-available P and plant P requirements are not sufficiently precise to meet this goal. The objectives of the present study were to (1) evaluate the effect of long-term P fertilization on the grain yield of winter wheat, maize, and rapeseed, (2) validate or establish models of critical shoot P concentration (PC) based on relationships of shoot P concentration with either shoot biomass or shoot nitrogen (N) concentration, and (3) assess both plant-based and soil-based diagnostic tools for managing P fertilization. A long-term field experiment with contrasted P fertilizer treatments, established in 1971 by Agroscope in Changins (Switzerland), was used to measure the shoot biomass and P concentration of winter wheat in 2011, maize in 2012, and rapeseed in 2014 weekly during the growing period and the grain yield at harvest. Soil available P in the 0–0.20 m soil layer was assessed by three chemical extractions: ammonium acetate EDTA (P-AAE), sodium bicarbonate (P-NaHCO3), and CO2-saturated water (P-CO2). Long-term P fertilization increased soil available P extracted by P-CO2 (+ 24%), P-AAE (+ 200%), and P-NaHCO3 (+ 155%), shoot growth and grain yield by 8.4% and 26.2% for winter wheat and rapeseed respectively but had no effect on maize. The relationships between PC and shoot biomass or N concentration were described respectively by allometric and linear models (R2 > 0.85, n = 21, 28 and 32 for winter wheat, maize and rapeseed respectively; slope P values for linear models < 0.05). The PC–shoot N concentration model (slope: 0.083, intercept: 0.88) for winter wheat confirmed results from previous studies and can be used for calculating the P nutrition index. For the three soil available P indicators, threshold values needed to achieve 95% of the maximum yield for the three crops were less than those currently used in the official fertilization guidelines in Switzerland. Our results obtained after 44 years of contrasted P fertilization confirm the relationship between PC and shoot N concentration for grain crops and the need to revise P fertilizer recommendations based on currently used soil P tests.

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