Boosting Phosphorus Availability Offers Multiple Benefits

Increasing the amount of applied phosphorus in soluble form can translate into greater plant uptake, higher yields and improved return on investment

(November 21, 2017)

CARY, N.C. (November 21, 2017) – A series of university, retailer and company field trials shows that use of AVAIL® Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer from Verdesian Life Sciences can boost the amount of phosphorus (P) available for plant uptake up to 45 percent.

“In some of these trials, the rate of applied P was reduced by 20 to 50 percent with little or no adverse effect on yield,” says Todd Carpenter, technical development manager for Verdesian Life Sciences. “Improved P availability and early season uptake of P translates into faster root development, improved root structure and stronger stalks. This means a more robust crop that can better withstand environmental stresses.”

In addition to the production and economic return-on-investment (ROI) benefits offered by AVAIL, improving the plant use of applied P also benefits the environment through nutrient use efficiency, which provides added protection from nutrient loss and greater nutrient uptake by plants.  As more P is taken up by plants, less P is left behind in the soil subject to off-site movement via soil erosion into waterways, according to Carpenter. “While applied phosphorus normally is not very mobile in the soil, it does attach to soil particles and goes where they go,” he explains. Practices like no-till that minimize soil erosion, and use of AVAIL, can work together to keep the nutrient from getting into waterways.”

The trials also indicate that use of AVAIL is especially valuable if soil tests show low P levels, when pH is below 6.0 or above 7.0, and for use in starter fertilizer applications. “If you would expect a response to your applied P fertilizer, you should expect an increased response from AVAIL,” Carpenter says.

A study conducted by Kansas State University indicates that AVAIL applied to fertilizer results in more soluble phosphate minerals being formed in soils than in soils where untreated P fertilizers were applied. “These more soluble minerals are easier for a crop to access and use,” Carpenter adds.

Another study at North Carolina State University (NCSU) suggests that AVAIL binds to mineral surfaces, keeping more P in solution, as well as complexes with metals in the soil solution, also keeping P more available. “This work may mean that AVAIL can help to solubilize P that is bound or “fixed” in the soil, in addition to working on the applied P,” Carpenter says. “The NCSU work showed an increase of P in solution when increasing the rates of the polymer in AVAIL.”

In addition, under favorable soils conditions, the NCSU study suggests that treated P fertilizer granules will dissolve into a greater volume of soil, making it easier for plant roots to intercept. According to Carpenter, this would be especially impactful in banded or knifed applications of granular or liquid P that get the nutrient closest to the root zone.

He also emphasizes that the increase in P efficiency that AVAIL provides has a direct correlation to improved ROI from every pound of P applied. “Ninety percent of our corn trials have shown a yield increase of 10 Bu./A, on average when AVAIL is applied,” Carpenter says. “At $3.25-per- bushel corn, the ROI could be as high at 5:1. Getting up to 45 percent more of the P applied into a crop during one growing season can make a big difference.”


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