Improving Phosphorus Fertility in Tropical Soils through Biological Interventions

Phosphorus availability is a critical factor limiting agricultural productivity in highly weathered tropical soils. These soils often have a high capacity to adsorb phosphorus, making it less available to plants, both from soil reserves and added fertilizers. In such environments, biological processes play a vital role in enhancing phosphorus availability to crops. Soil microbes mediate the turnover of organic phosphorus and organic amendments, preventing strong sorption of phosphorus and maintaining it in a plant-accessible form. However, these microbial processes are contingent on the availability of decomposable organic carbon. This chapter explores various strategies to enhance soil biological activity and, consequently, improve soil phosphorus availability, with a focus on case studies from Colombia and Kenya. It also discusses the challenges and complexities of synchronizing nutrient release by microbial processes with plant demand.
Soil fertility, Agricultural productivity, Phosphorus
Oberson, Astrid, Else K. Bunemann, Dennis K. Friesen, I.M. Rao, Paul C. Smithson,Benjamin L. Turner, and Emmanuel Frossard. 2006. “Improving Phosphorus Fertility in Tropical Soils through Biological Interventions,” Chapter 37, pp. 531-546, IN Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems, Norman Uphoff (Ed.), CRC Press. DOI: 10.1201/9781420017113.ch37.