Spatial variability of soil phosphorus in the Fribourg canton, Switzerland
Phosphorus (P) is the second essential nutrient for plant growth but can become an ecological and economical concern in case of over-fertilization. Soil P dynamic is influenced by many parameters like soil physical-chemical properties and farming practices. A better understanding of the factors controlling its distribution is required to achieve best P crops management. In Switzerland, the FRIBO network was launched in 1987 and comprises of 250 sites covering a wide diversity of soils and three different land uses (croplands, grasslands and mountain pastures) across the Fribourg canton. A spatial investigation of the different P forms for the FRIBO network led to the following main conclusions: i) The P status in agricultural soils was significantly different among the three land uses encountered, with the highest mean values of available P found in croplands (from 2.12 to 81.3 mg.kg-1 according to the indicator used), whereas total P was more abundant in permanent grasslands (1186.2 mg.kg-1), followed by mountain pastures (1039.0 mg.kg-1) and croplands (935.0 mg.kg-1). A full characterization of the soil P status provides necessary data on P distribution related to soil properties and land use, and should help to develop more accurate estimation procedures and fertilization strategies in a near future; ii) Environmental variables derived from digital elevation model (DEM) only explained a small part of the spatial variation of the different P forms (20 to 25%). Thus, the geostatistic analyses revealed that land use play a major role in soil P distribution. However, this pattern was less visible for total P than for available P. Future studies should include more data points as well as additional variables such as parent material and soil type to accurately estimate the role of soil parameters on the distribution of P-related forms.