Lettuce Response to Phosphorus Fertilization in High P soils

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  • 1 Univ. of California, Dept. of Vegetable Crops, Davis, CA 95616
  • | 2 Univ. of California, Dept. of Vegetable Crops, Davis, CA 95616

Heavy P fertilization of vegetable crops in the Salinas Valley of California have increased soil P levels, with > 50 mg·kg-1 bicarbonate-extractable P (Pbc) now common. To evaluate the response of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) to P fertilization in fields with elevated soil P levels, 12 trials were conducted in commercial fields during 2002-2003. Pbc at the trial sites varied from 53-171 mg·kg-1. In each trial four replicate plots receiving the growers' P application were compared with paired plots in which no P was applied. Leaf P was monitored at cupping stage and at harvest. At harvest mean whole plant mass and % of marketable plants were recorded. The correlation of Pbc to bioavailable P (Pba) was evaluated using 30 representative Salinas Valley soils; Pbc varied among these soils from 15-177 mg·kg-1. Pba was estimated by P adsorption on an anion resin membrane during a 16 h incubation. The effect of temperature on P bioavailability in 6 of these soils was estimated by conducting the Pba incubation at 5, 15 and 25 °C. A significant increase in lettuce yield with P fertilization was achieved at only one trial site, a spring planting where Pbc was 54 mg kg-1 ; at all other sites, including 3 with Pbc < 60 mg kg-1, P application resulted in no agronomic benefit. P application resulted in only a marginal increase in plant P uptake. Pba was highly correlated with Pbc (r = 0.89). Pba increased approximately 40% across soils with each 10 °C increase in soil temperature.

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