Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Eric D. Roy
Phosphorus (P) is essential to life on Earth and often the limiting nutrient in agricultural systems. P fertilizer is thus an essential resource to maintain food security. In the last half century, agricultural intensification has led to an increase in P fertilizer consumption from 4.6 to 17.5 Tg of P/year to meet rising global food demand. Mineral P (i.e., phosphate rock) is a non-renewable resource in the context of the Anthropocene, and its price is vulnerable to global market fluctuations. Increased efficiency of P use on farms is considered the most effective strategy to conserve P. The soybean industry demands 9.7% of global P use, of which Brazil’s soy industry consumes the most, accounting for 5.8% of the world’s P2O5 use in 2014. This global source of soy production is challenged by the unique tendency of weathered tropical soils, such as Oxisols, to retain (i.e., fix) P in forms that are unavailable to crops. The accumulation of soil P due to years of P fertilization in excess of harvested P is referred to as “residual” or “legacy” P. Historical hotspots for crop production in the US and Europe have relied on residual soil P stocks to maintain yields despite reduced P inputs. Whether Brazil will be able to utilize the same strategy depends on the accessibility of residual soil P stocks when applied fertilizer P is reduced. Field research on this topic remains relatively scarce for cultivated Oxisols in tropical climates. I conducted a field trial at Tanguro Ranch in Mato Grosso, Brazil on a field that has been fertilized at standard high rates for 10 years to test whether residual soil P can be accessed by soy crops. Soy yield response differed significantly (p < 0.05) based on the interaction between fertilization treatment (0%, 50%, or 100% of standard P fertilization) and soil texture. My results highlight opportunities to enhance P fertilizer use efficiency in intensive tropical agriculture.
Number of Pages
Bomeisl, Lauren, "Residual Soil Phosphorus in Tropical Oxisols: An Opportunity to Enhance Fertilizer Use Efficiency?" (2019). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1159.