Rapid whole-plant bioassay for phosphorus phytoavailability in soils

Xiao Lan Huang, Yona Chen, Moshe Shenker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Chemical P extraction from soils is an indirect and frequently questionable index for P availability. To monitor the dynamics of P availability in soils more directly following the application of P fertilizer, manure or sludge, a rapid, whole-plant bioassay was developed using tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa L. var.pekinensis) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Plant P extracted in 0.1 M H2SO4 (P i ) and total P (P t ) concentration or content in stem, leaves or whole shoots were highly correlated (P < 0.01) with P fertilizer rates or water-soluble (WSP) or Olsen P in various soils, over wide ranges of soil P status. The whole-plant P i content was found to be as informative as the more complicated indices of P t or P i concentration. The assay was used to compare availability of fertilizer-P and sewage-sludge-P after incorporation into alluvial soil during 1-100 days of incubation. While both soil and plant indices had shown that fertilizer-P was more highly available than sewage-sludge-P in each period, the bioassay was much more sensitive than the Olsen-P or WSP soil indices in showing P fixation and decrease of availability during incubation time. The bioassay is sufficiently rapid (5-12 days) to allow a study of short-term changes in soil-P availability following incorporation of various P additives, and it is applicable to a very wide range of P availability values (6-535 mg Olsen-P kg-1), extending from lower than desired for crop production to higher than permitted from an environmental standpoint.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)365-376
Number of pages12
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Israeli Ministry of the Environment.


  • Bioassay
  • Olsen-P
  • Soil phosphorus phytoavailability
  • Water-soluble P


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