Journal article

Land-use change affects phosphorus fractions in highly weathered tropical soils

Deforestation and land-use change in tropics have increased over the past decades, driven by the demand for agricultural products. Although phosphorus (P) is one of the main limiting nutrients for agricultural productivity in the tropics, the effect of land-use change on P availability remains unclear. The objective was to assess the impacts of land-use change on soil inorganic and organic P fractions of different availability (Hedley sequential fractionation) and on P stocks in highly weathered tropical soils. We compared the P availability under extensive land-use (rubber agroforest) and intensive land-use with moderate fertilization (rubber monoculture plantations) or high fertilization (oil palm monoculture plantations) in Indonesia. The P stock was dominated by inorganic forms (60 to 85%) in all land-use types. Fertilizer application increased easily-available inorganic P (i.e., H2O-Pi, NaHCO3-Pi) in intensive rubber and oil palm plantations compared to rubber agroforest However, the easily-available organic P (NaHCO3-extractable Po) was reduced by half under oil palm and rubber. The decrease of moderately available and non-available P in monoculture plantation means that fertilization maintains only the short-term soil fertility that is not sustainable in the long run due to the depletion of P reserves. The mechanisms of this P reserve depletion are: 1) soil erosion (here assessed by C/P ratio), 2) mineralization of soil organic matter (SOM) and 3) P export with yield products. Easily-available P fractions (i.e., H2O-Pi, NaHCO3-Pi and Po) and total organic P were strongly positively correlated with carbon content, suggesting that SOM plays a key role in maintaining P availability. Ecologically based management is therefore necessary to mitigate SOM losses and thus increase the sustainability of agricultural production in P-limited, highly weathered tropical soils. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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