Comparison of single superphosphate and superphosphate coated with bauxite residue for subterranean clover production on phosphorus-leaching soils

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Australian Journal of Soil Research


bauxite residue, phosphorus, soil amendment, eutrophication, runoff


Bauxite residue from alumina refining was used to coat granules of single superphosphate to reduce the leaching of phosphorus in coarse, sandy soils for pastures in high rainfall areas of south-western Australia (>800 mm annual average). The impact of coating the superphosphate on the leaching of phosphorus was measured in a glasshouse experiment and the effectiveness of the fertiliser using dry herbage yield of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum) was measured in a field experiment. The glasshouse experiment measured the effect of coating the superphosphate with bauxite residue at 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40% by weight. A coating of 25% (by weight) was chosen for the field experiment.

In the glasshouse experiment, the coated granules were applied to columns of soil, where subterranean clover was grown under leaching conditions. A coating of 30%, by weight, reduced leaching of single superphosphate by about half. Increasing the coating of bauxite residue also increased the phosphorus uptake and increased the plant growth.

In the field trial, the effectiveness of single superphosphate with a bauxite residue coating of 25% by weight was increased on average by 100% in Year 1, 303% in Year 2, and 158% in Year 3, relative to freshly applied single superphosphate. The bauxite residue coating also increased the phosphorus content of the herbage in a similar manner to the increases in yield. Limited soil phosphorus tests showed only minor increases in the residues of phosphorus where the superphosphate had been coated with bauxite residue.