Revealing soil legacy phosphorus to promote sustainable agriculture in Brazil

Pavinato, Paulo S and Cherubin, Maurício R and Soltangheisi, Amin and Rocha, Gustavo C and Chadwick, Dave R and Jones, Davey L (2020) Revealing soil legacy phosphorus to promote sustainable agriculture in Brazil. Scientific Reports, 10 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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Exploiting native soil phosphorus (P) and the large reservoirs of residual P accumulated over decades of cultivation, namely "legacy P", has great potential to overcome the high demand of P fertilisers in Brazilian cropping systems. Long-term field experiments have shown that a large proportion (> 70%) of the surplus P added via fertilisers remains in the soil, mainly in forms not readily available to crops. An important issue is if the amount of legacy P mobilized from soil is sufficient for the crop nutritional demand and over how long this stored soil P can be effectively 'mined' by crops in a profitable way. Here we mapped the spatial-temporal distribution of legacy P over the past 50 years, and discussed possible agricultural practices that could increase soil legacy P usage by plants in Brazil. Mineral fertiliser and manure applications have resulted in ~ 33.4 Tg of legacy P accumulated in the agricultural soils from 1967 to 2016, with a current annual surplus rate of 1.6 Tg. Following this same rate, soil legacy P may reach up to 106.5 Tg by 2050. Agricultural management practices to enhance soil legacy P usage by crops includes increasing soil pH by liming, crop rotation, double-cropping, inter-season cover crops, no-tillage system and use of modern fertilisers, in addition to more efficient crop varieties and inoculation with P solubilising microorganisms. The adoption of these practices could increase the use efficiency of P, substantially reducing the new input of fertilisers and thus save up to 31.8 Tg of P fertiliser use (US$ 20.8 billion) in the coming decades. Therefore, exploring soil legacy P is imperative to reduce the demand for mineral fertilisers while promoting long-term P sustainability in Brazil.

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Journal Article
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Scientific Reports
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03 Dec 2020 14:45
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 02:14