453 Evaluation of a Phosphate-charged Soil Material as a Source of Phosphorus for Soilless Root Media

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  • Departments of 1Horticultural Science and2 Soil Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695

A soil material high in metal oxides collected from the Bw horizon of a Hemcross soil in the state of Oregon was charged with phosphate, added to a soilless root medium, and evaluated for its potential to supply phosphate at a low, stable concentration during 14 weeks of tomato cropping (three successive crops). Three rates of phosphate were charged on the soil material, 0, 2.2, and 6.5 m P/g soil material and the soil material was incorporated into a 3 peatmoss: 1 perlite (v:v) medium at 5 % (40 g) and 10 % (80 g) of the volume of a 13.6-cm pot (1.0 L of medium). Uncharged soil material incorporated into soilless root medium at 5% and 10% reduced soil solution phosphate to deficient levels for 2 and 7 weeks, respectively. Phosphate was adequately supplied for 7, 10, 12, and more than 14 weeks in the 2.2P-5%, 2.2P-10%, 6.5P-5%, and 6.5P-10% treatment, respectively, as determined by symptoms of P deficiency. Phosphate and K levels in soil solution were highest at the beginning of crop 1 and tended to decline thereafter. Incorporation of soil material into soilless root medium improved pH stability whether it was charged with phosphate or not. The loss of the phosphate-charged soil material was negligible, 0.3% for the 6.5P-5% treatment and 1.2% for the 6.5P-10% treatment. The minimum critical concentration of soil solution phosphate for tomato in a 3 peatmoss: 1 perlite (v:v) medium as determined by the pour-through extraction procedure was found to be 0.3 mg·L–1 or slightly less.

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