Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2015Peer reviewed

Long-term trends in phosphorus leaching and changes in soil phosphorus with phytomining

Svanbäck, Annika; Ulen, Barbro; Bergström, Lars; Kleinman, Peter


Few mitigation strategies exist to reduce phosphorus (P) losses in leachate once soil P has built up. "Phytomining," or harvesting a crop without application of fertilizer P to create a negative P balance, has been proposed as a strategy for lowering soil P levels and preventing P loss to runoff and leachate. In this study crops were grown and harvested over 7 to 16 years in undisturbed soil columns (105 cm [41 in] deep) with contrasting textures (loamy sand, sandy loam, silty clay loam, and clay) and high P levels, while P loss in leachate was measured. Soil test P in the topsoil (0 to 20 cm [0 to 8 in] depth) was significantly decreased from the beginning to the end of the study for all soils, while a significant decreasing trend in dissolved reactive P in leachate was only observed in one soil. Downward movement of P from the topsoil to deeper layers was indicated to occur in three out of four soils. Although phytomining lowered soil test P by 11% to 37% in topsoils over the 7 to 16 year period of the study, results indicate that soils with P content well above agronomic optimum may take a much longer time to reach the agronomic optimum.


high phosphorus soils; phosphorus drawdown; phosphorus leaching; phytomining

Published in

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
2015, Volume: 70, number: 2, pages: 121-132