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Chemical behavior of fluid and granular Mn and Zn fertilisers in alkaline soils

G. M. Hettiarachchi A B D , E. Lombi B , M. J. McLaughlin B C , D. J. Chittleborough B and C. Johnston C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Agronomy, Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5501, USA.

B Soil and Land Systems, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Urrbrae, SA 5064, Australia.

C CSIRO Land and Water, PMB 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Soil Research 48(3) 238-247
Submitted: 20 March 2009  Accepted: 9 November 2009   Published: 6 May 2010


The grain yield benefits of applying micronutrient fluid fertilisers over conventional granular products in calcareous sandy loam soils have been agronomically demonstrated. An understanding of the fundamental mechanisms and reactions occurring following application of these products to soils is critical to improve fertiliser management. We therefore examined the diffusion, solubility, and potential availability of manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn) from both granular and fluid forms of Mn and Zn fertiliser in an alkaline calcareous and alkaline non-calcareous soil using laboratory incubation experiments in conjunction with an isotopic dilution technique with 54Mn and 65Zn. Enhanced mobility, solubility, and/or potential availability of Mn and Zn from fluid fertilisers were observed in comparison to Mn or Zn from granular fertilisers in both soils after 5 weeks of incubation. Differential behaviour of fluid and granular fertilisers for Mn and Zn appeared to be independent of their effects on soil pH. Most (~90%) of the Mn in granular fertiliser dissolved and diffused out of the granule but was retained within 4 mm of the point of granular placement, whereas most (~85%) of the Zn in the granular Zn fertiliser source remained in the granule. Our data suggest that the superior agronomic effectiveness of fluid Mn and Zn fertilisers observed in calcareous soils under field conditions may have resulted from the enhanced diffusion (Mn) and/or solubility/availability (Mn, Zn) of these micronutrients in soil when applied in fluid form.


We thank Sharyn Zrna and Claire Wright for their technical support with analyses. This study was supported by a Linkage grant from the Australian Research Council (LP0454086), the South Australian Grains Industry Trust and CSBP Ltd, Western Australia. Authors also acknowledge the support of Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Fluid Fertiliser Foundation.


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