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A Critical Review on Soil Chemical Processes that Control How Soil pH Affects Phosphorus Availability to Plants

USDA-ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
Purdue University, Department of Agronomy, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 120;
Received: 26 April 2019 / Revised: 25 May 2019 / Accepted: 4 June 2019 / Published: 8 June 2019
PDF [890 KB, uploaded 8 June 2019]


Occasionally, the classic understanding of the effect of pH on P uptake from soils is questioned through the claim that maximum P uptake occurs at a pH much lower than 6.5–7. The purpose of this paper was to thoroughly examine that claim and provide a critical review on soil processes that control how soil pH affects P solubility and availability. We discuss how individual P retention mechanisms are affected by pH in isolation and when combined in soils, and how both real and apparent exceptions to the classic view can occasionally occur due to dynamics between mechanisms, experimental techniques (equilibration time, method of soluble P extraction, and pH adjustment), and plant species that thrive under acidic conditions. While real exceptions to the rule of thumb of maximum P availability at near neutral pH can occur, we conclude that the classic textbook recommendation is generally sound. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil phosphorus solubility; plant available phosphorus; pH soil phosphorus solubility; plant available phosphorus; pH

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Penn, C.J.; Camberato, J.J. A Critical Review on Soil Chemical Processes that Control How Soil pH Affects Phosphorus Availability to Plants. Agriculture 2019, 9, 120.

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