A Literature Review by Glenn Bailey, Rural Solutions SA edited by Felicity Turner, MacKillop Farm Management Group.

Phosphorus fertilisers are expected to get more expensive as demand overtakes supply.

Key Points

  • Fertiliser applied phosphorus can be lost rapidly on some sandy soils. There are some simple tests that can be done to indicate the risk of this happening.
  • In other soils, phosphorus is fairly immobile and won’t be lost to leaching.
  • Building up the soil reserves of phosphorus will make P more plant-available, regardless of how or when it is applied.
  • The total phosphorus in the soil has value to you, not just the more readily available phosphorus.
  • Generally if you maintain a balanced phosphorus regime, you will use everything that you apply in the long run.
  • Phosphorus is fixed by most soils. This is a generally a good thing as it prevents leaching losses, so unless you have ‘high risk soils’, don’t be concerned about “lockup”.
  • Don’t buy into alternatives to phosphorus fertilisers that claim to improve access to phosphorus stored in the soil.

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