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Main research question/goal
The purpose of this research is to determine the phosphorus level in the soil at which no phosphorus deficiency for the crops occurs AND where the phosphorus losses to the environment are most limited. In other words, we are looking for the right balance. Further, we seek which measurement technique best represents the phosphorus availability for the crop as well as the phosphorus losses. Based on these research outcomes, guidelines for sustainable phosphorus fertilization on soils in Flanders are drawn up. Many agricultural soils in Flanders contain high phosphorus contents. This phosphorus load is one of the contributors to the high phosphorus concentrations in water bodies in Flanders (eutrophication), which can lead to algae blooms, fish mortality and decreased water quality.

Research approach
In a first part several methods for determination of phosphorus availability are tested. This is done by literature study, pot trials, long term field trials and soil column experiments. In a second part the target zone for phosphorus availability is set, meaning the phosphorus level that is acceptable for both agriculture (optimal crop yield) and environment (limited phosphorus losses). In part three, fertilization strategies are developed to reach this phosphorus level. This is done by literature study, lab and field experiments. Both fertilization techniques and quantities are evaluated.

The ultimate result of this study is a thorough evaluation of the current methods for soil phosphorus availability measurement. Research-based recommendations for target soil phosphorus levels in soils in Flanders are presented. These can differ depending on soil type and crop. Fertilization advice and a code of good agricultural practice to reach these target soil phosphorus levels are issued. The phosphorus buffering capacity of the soil will be taken into account, together with possible differences whether soil phosphorus contents are increasing or decreasing. Following these recommendations regarding techniques and quantities results in a more sustainable phosphorus use for both agriculture and environment.
Effective start/end date1/01/1531/12/18


ID: 4149167