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Soil, land care and environmental research
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The interaction between soil pH and phosphorus for wheat yield and the impact of lime-induced changes to soil aluminium and potassium

Craig A. Scanlan A D , Ross F. Brennan B , Mario F. D’Antuono C and Gavin A. Sarre A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, PO Box 483, Northam, WA 6401, Australia.

B Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 444 Albany Highway, Albany, WA 6330, Australia.

C Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, Locked Bag 4 Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: craig.scanlan@agric.wa.gov.au

Soil Research 55(4) 341-353 https://doi.org/10.1071/SR16274
Submitted: 12 October 2016  Accepted: 1 December 2016   Published: 9 January 2017

Abstract

Interactions between soil pH and phosphorus (P) for plant growth have been widely reported; however, most studies have been based on pasture species, and the agronomic importance of this interaction for acid-tolerant wheat in soils with near-sufficient levels of fertility is unclear. We conducted field experiments with wheat at two sites with acid soils where lime treatments that had been applied in the 6 years preceding the experiments caused significant changes to soil pH, extractable aluminium (Al), soil nutrients and exchangeable cations. Soil pH(CaCl2) at 0–10 cm was 4.7 without lime and 6.2 with lime at Merredin, and 4.7 without lime and 6.5 with lime at Wongan Hills. A significant lime × P interaction (P < 0.05) for grain yield was observed at both sites. At Merredin, this interaction was negative, i.e. the combined effect of soil pH and P was less than their additive effect; the difference between the dose–response curves without lime and with lime was greatest at 0 kg P ha–1 and the curves converged at 32 kg P ha–1. At Wongan Hills, the interaction was positive (combined effect greater than the additive effect), and lime application reduced grain yield. The lime × P interactions observed are agronomically important because different fertiliser P levels were required to maximise grain yield. A lime-induced reduction in Al phytotoxicity was the dominant mechanism for this interaction at Merredin. The negative grain yield response to lime at Wongan Hills was attributed to a combination of marginal soil potassium (K) supply and lime-induced reduction in soil K availability.

Additional keywords: nitrogen, soil acidity.


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