Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

Phosphorus accumulation by field-grown canola crops and the potential for deep phosphorus placement in a Mediterranean-type climate

Terry J. Rose A C D , Zed Rengel A , Qifu Ma A and John W. Bowden B

A Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, M087, School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 3 Baron Hay Court, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.

C Present address: Japan International Research Centre for Agricultural Science (JIRCAS), 1-1 Ohwashi Tsukuba, 305-8686 Ibaraki, Japan.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Crop and Pasture Science 60(10) 987-994
Submitted: 20 October 2008  Accepted: 22 June 2009   Published: 18 September 2009


When the bulk of phosphorus (P) is located near the soil surface, spring drying of topsoil in Mediterranean-type climates can reduce P availability to crops and cause potential yield loss. In crop species that require a P supply during spring, deep-placement of P fertiliser has proved an effective method of improving P availability and grain yields; however, the spring P demand of field-grown canola (Brassica napus L.) and therefore potential response to deep P placement is not known. This study investigated the effect of deep- (0.17–0.18 m), conventional- (shallow, 0.07–0.08 m), split- (50% deep, 50% shallow), and nil-P fertiliser treatments on P accumulation and seed yields of canola in two field trials. In addition, a glasshouse experiment with different depths of P fertiliser placement and topsoil drying at different growth stages was conducted. In the glasshouse study, deep P placement resulted in greater P uptake by plants, but did not increase seed yields regardless of the time of topsoil drying. At the relatively high-soil-P field site (canola grown on residual P application from the previous year) in a dry season, there was no biomass response to any residual P fertiliser treatments, and P accumulation had ceased by mid flowering. At the low-P field site, P accumulation continued throughout flowering and silique-filling, and seed yields increased significantly (P ≤ 0.05) in the order of split- > deep- > shallow- > nil-P treatments. Improved seed yields in the split- and deep-P treatments appeared to be the direct result of enhanced P availability; in particular, P uptake during vegetative growth (winter) was higher in the treatments with deep P placement. A greater understanding of P accumulation by field-grown canola in relation to soil P properties is needed for better defining optimum P fertiliser placement recommendations.


This research was funded by the GRDC (Grain Research and Development Corporation) and the University of Western Australia. Financial assistance from a Jean Rogerson Postgraduate Supplementary Scholarship is gratefully acknowledged. We thank Reg Lunt, Tim Hilder, and Paul Damon for technical assistance.


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