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Phosphorus Response Trial

Title of Experiment: Phosphorus Response Trial

Date planted: May 2013

Contact: Prof Davey Jones

Funding sources: UK Government (DEFRA)  

Location: Henfaes Research centre (lowland site)

Experimental Aims

  • To characterised the response of wheat in a low P status soil.
  • To parameterise a new mathematical model describing P uptake by crop plants.
  • To quantify root growth and mycorrhizal dynamics in wheat during the growing season
  • To determine P acquisition by wheat and above-below ground partitioning of P resources.
  • To measure soil water, temperature and physical changes during the growing season
  • To study fertiliser dissolution rates.


Brief description

The trial is located at the Bangor University Henfaes Research Centre in the lowland part of the farm. The wider project which this trial forms part of is designed to change agronomic practices in the UK to use P more efficiently. The aim is to reduce the amount of P fertiliser we apply to soil and to get crops to use this added P more efficiently. There are a range of laboratory experiments which parallel this trial.

They are focussing on a detailed exploration of rhizosphere processes (plant-microbial-soil interactions) for example looking at root hairs, organic acid release, auxin responses, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria, phosphatases, fertiliser coatings, novel fertiliser formulation etc. The field experiment was set up to support these trials and specifically to parameterise a new mathematical model which is capable of scaling from the single root scale to the whole field level (see collaborations below).

The trial is designed to measure P in the plant and soil compartments over the growing season (from sowing to harvest). The trial has a fully randomised block design with 6 replications per treatment. There are two treatments, a low P fertiliser application (0 kg P/ha) and a high P application (60 kg P/ha). N (120 kg N/ha) and K (80 kg K/ha) were added to all plots. The soil P status is characterised as being DEFRA Index 1. This indicates a very low plant-available P content (10-15 mg P dm-3) as measured by an Olsen P 0.5 M NaHCO3 extract (equivalent to a Resin P value of 20-30 mg P dm-3). The soil is a sandy textured Eutric Cambisol. The P was added as TSP and the N added as a split dose of ammonium nitrate.



The people working on this trial are Jake Roden, Pete Tallboys, John Healey, Paul Withers and Davey Jones. We welcome collaboration on this trial. We can host visits and supply samples for research purposes to interested parties from the UK and overseas. The contact details are listed at the top of the page. Current collaborations include:

Dr Tiina Roose, Southampton University (mathematical modelling)

Figure 1. The start of the trial