Phosphate Sorption Characteristics and External P Requirements of Selected South African Soils

E. M. Gichangi, P. N. S. Mnkeni, P. Muchaonyerwa


The Transkei is the largest consolidated area in South Africa where land is held by smallholder farmers but little is known about the extent of phosphate fixation in the region. This study was conducted to determine the phosphate sorption properties and external P requirements (EPR) of selected soils from the Transkei region, South Africa and to relate derived sorption values to selected soil parameters. The P sorption maxima and EPR values varied widely ranging from 192.3 to 909.1 mg P kg−1 and from 2 to 123 mg P kg−1−1 soil, respectively. Citrate dithionite bicarbonate-extractable aluminum explained most of the observed variations in P sorption. About 43% of the soils were found to be moderate P fixers and may need management interventions to ensure adequate P availability to crops. The single point sorption index accurately predicted the EPR of the soils obviating the need to use multiple point sorption isotherms. The results suggested that the use of blanket phosphate fertilizer recommendations may not be a good strategy for the region as it may lead to under-application or over-application of P in some areas.


External P requirement; P-sorption; Single point sorption test; Citrate dithionite bicarbonate-extractable aluminum; South Africa

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