Effects of land-use change on phosphorus forms in South-West Australian soils

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[Truncated abstract] Eleven sites, each with the trio of land uses: Eucalyptus globulus plantation, pasture and natural vegetation, representing from the Mediterranean climate, high rainfall region (<550 mm annually) of south-western Australia were investigated to assess medium-term changes in the P-supplying capacity of soils in eucalypt plantations growing on agricultural land. The natural vegetation soils were a benchmark for comparing soil P change since land clearing and development for agriculture. The experimental framework provided an ideal basis for studying changes in P forms since land clearing and fertilization for agriculture and the ensuing conversion to plantations (on an average 9 years ago). Conventional soil P indices measure plant available P that is more relevant to short duration annual crops and pastures. To predict medium-term P availability, P forms were determined using Hedley et al.’s (1982) fractionation scheme and fractions were grouped using the Guo and Youst (1998) criteria into readily, moderately and sparingly available P. The P species were also determined by 31P NMR spectroscopy of 0.5M NaOH-0.1M EDTA extracts. Hedley et al.’s (1982) inorganic P extracted by anion exchange resin and by NaHCO3 are widely considered to be approximations to the actual plant available P. The availability to plants of other P fractions is less certain and this is examined in an experiment to compare the plant availability of various P fractions in soils from fertilized and unfertilized land uses following exhaustive cropping in the glasshouse. The soil texture for the sites studied included coarse sand, loamy sand, clayey sand, and sandy loam. Surface soils (0-10 cm) have pH(CaCl2) in the acidic range (mean 4.4) and there is no significant difference due to differences in land use (P<0.05). The soils are of low EC (1:5 H2O) - 6 mS m-1. There is an almost 5-fold variation in organic C among sites (from 1.4% to 8%) but organic C values did not show any significant effect (P<0.05) of changes in land use. To evaluate the degree of similarity of soils within each triplet set at a site principal component analysis was carried out on those soil chemical⁄mineralogical characteristics that were least likely to be affected by changes in land use practices. This analysis showed good matching of the triplet of sub-sites on the whole, especially for the duo of pasture and plantation land uses. This degree of matching of the trio of land uses was considered while interpreting the effects of land use on the forms and behaviour of soil P, and variations due to various extents of mismatch were mostly addressed using statistical techniques including regression analysis to interpret sub-site difference
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004


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