Articles | Volume 12, issue 21
Biogeosciences, 12, 6443–6452, 2015
Biogeosciences, 12, 6443–6452, 2015

Research article 11 Nov 2015

Research article | 11 Nov 2015

Speciation and distribution of P associated with Fe and Al oxides in aggregate-sized fraction of an arable soil

X. Jiang1, R. Bol1, S. Willbold2, H. Vereecken1, and E. Klumpp1 X. Jiang et al.
  • 1Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, Agrosphere Institute (IBG-3), Jülich, Germany
  • 2Central Institute for Engineering, Electronics and Analytics, Analytics (ZEA-3), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Wilhelm Johnen Straße, 52425 Jülich, Germany

Abstract. To maximize crop productivity fertilizer P is generally applied to arable soils, a significant proportion of which becomes stabilized by mineral components and in part subsequently becomes unavailable to plants. However, little is known about the relative contributions of the different organic and inorganic P bound to Fe/Al oxides in the smaller soil particles. Alkaline (NaOH–Na2EDTA) extraction with solution 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance (31P-NMR) spectroscopy is considered a reliable method for extracting and quantifying organic P and (some) inorganic P. However, any so-called residual P after the alkaline extraction has remained unidentified. Therefore, in the present study, the amorphous (a) and crystalline (c) Fe/Al oxide minerals and related P in soil aggregate-sized fractions (> 20, 2–20, 0.45–2 and < 0.45 μm) were specifically extracted by oxalate (a-Fe/Al oxides) and dithionite–citrate–bicarbonate (DCB, both a- and c-Fe/Al oxides). These soil aggregate-sized fractions with and without the oxalate and DCB pre-treatments were then sequentially extracted by alkaline extraction prior to solution 31P-NMR spectroscopy. This was done to quantify the P associated with a- and c-Fe/Al oxides in both alkaline extraction and the residual P of different soil aggregate-sized fractions.

The results showed that overall P contents increased with decreasing size of the soil aggregate-sized fractions. However, the relative distribution and speciation of varying P forms were found to be independent of soil aggregate-size. The majority of alkaline-extractable P was in the a-Fe/Al oxide fraction (42–47 % of total P), most of which was ortho-phosphate (36–41 % of total P). Furthermore, still significant amounts of particularly monoester P were bound to these oxides. Intriguingly, however, Fe/Al oxides were not the main bonding sites for pyrophosphate. Residual P contained similar amounts of total P associated with both a- (11–15 % of total P) and c-Fe oxides (7–13 % of total P) in various aggregate-sized fractions, suggesting that it was likely occluded within the a- and c-Fe oxides in soil. This implies that, with the dissolution of Fe oxides, this P may be released and thus available for plants and microbial communities.

Short summary
Overall P content increased with decreasing size of soil aggregate-sized fractions. The relative distribution and speciation of varying P forms were independent of particle size. The majority of alkaline extractable P was in the amorphous Fe/Al oxide fraction, most of which was orthophosphate. Significant amounts of monoester P were also bound to these oxides. Residual P contained similar amounts of P occluded in amorphous and crystalline Fe oxides. This P may be released by FeO dissolution.
Final-revised paper