Phosphorus availability in relation to soil properties and forest productivity in Pinus sylvestris L. plantations

Pinus sylvestris L. productivity in Spanish plantations is driven by P availability, which, in turn, is determined by the activity of soil microorganisms, responsible for inorganic P solubilization; Fe and Al contents, responsible for P retention; and organic matter, which is source of organic P, inhibits its precipitation as insoluble compounds, and reduces P retention.

Context Phosphorus is often a limiting nutrient in forest ecosystems mainly due to the low solubility of P compounds and the sorption processes occurring in soils.
Aims The main aims of this work were to evaluate soil P availability, to assess which soil properties are driving P availability, and to study whether soil P availability is determining forest productivity in Pinus sylvestris L. plantations in Northern Spain.
Methods Soil properties and forest productivity were studied in 34 plots located in monospecific P. sylvestris plantations. Tiessen and Moir (Canadian Society of Soil Science 75–86, 1993) sequential fractionation method was carried out to determine different forms of soil P and to provide a comprehensive assessment of available P in soils. To explore the relationships between these variables, canonical correlation analyses and Pearson’s correlations were studied.
Results Significant correlations were found between P fractions and soil properties related to Fe and Al contents, organic matter, and microbial biomass. Besides, significant correlations were found between site index and the studied P fractions except for P extracted with anion exchange membrane (PAEM) and the recalcitrant P fraction.
Conclusion In the studied soils, P availability is low and the predominant fractions of P are the recalcitrant forms. Aluminum and iron contents in the soils studied play an important role in sorption processes related to the highly and moderately labile P fractions and the organic phosphorus. P availability seems to be regulated by both processes: biochemical mineralization, where phosphatase activity is relevant, and biological mineralization of the soil organic matter. Phosphorus availability affects forest productivity in the Pinus sylvestris plantations studied.

Site index, Phosphorus fractionation, Sequential extraction, Labile phosphorus, Recalcitrant phosphorus, Microbial biomass

Bueis, T., Bravo, F., Pando, V. et al. Annals of Forest Science (2019) 76: 97.

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Data availability
The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the Zenodo repository (Bueis et al. 2018a) at

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