Phosphorus sorption by gravels in lateritic soils

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Australian Journal of Soil Research


phosphorus, sorption, gravel, laterite


The effect of sesquioxidic gravels (>2 mm size fraction) on phosphorus sorption by two gravelly lateritic soils was investigated by phosphorus sorption experiments, X-ray diffraction, autoradiography and electron microscopy. In one soil the abundance and size of gravels decreased downslope. As the gravel content of both soils increased (13-61%), the proportion of large (>8 mm) gravels increased (0-70%). Phosphorus sorption increased in the order: (>2 mm fraction) < (whole soils) < (<2 mm fraction). Phosphorus sorption on lateritic gravels (>2 mm) decreased with increasing gravel size and increased with increasing time. Phosphorus sorption by whole soils decreased with increasing gravel content. Phosphorus sorption by the >2 mm fraction was principally by the external surfaces of the gravels. The estimation of phosphorus application rates for lateritic soils depended on the amount of phosphorus required by the plant and the gravel content of the soil. The former is the important factor at low soil gravel contents whereas the latter becomes more important as the gravel content increases. The implications for fertilizer management on the soil with consistent relationships between landscape position, gravel content and subsequent P sorption properties of whole soils are discussed.