Optimisation of nutrients in soil-plant systems: Determining how phosphorus availability is regulated in soils

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Unlisted

Abstract

Many soils in the UK contain relatively large quantities of phosphorus (P), and phosphates (Po) can account for 20-90% of the total P present, representing a potentially significant reserve. One of the major challenges for research is to better understand the mechanisms and soil management techniques that can make available to plants this potentially large store of soil P. The objectives of the project are therefore to:
1. Determine why the critical level of available P differs between soils.
2. Investigate how the P in soil/organic residues can be exploited to reduce the need for fertiliser P.
3. Determine whether there are key microbial groups associated with making P available to crops.

To achieve this we will:
1. Use experiments at Rothamsted and the Farm Platform at North Wyke that differ in their P status and in native and applied organic matter to investigate the chemical speciation of P using synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectrometry (e.g. XANES) for solid phase speciation and 31P-NMR for solution phase speciation in soil extracts.

2. Measure the dynamics of C and organic and inorganic N and P, using 13C and P18O4 tracers, the direct mobilisation of 33P or 15N, and identify processes which increase the microbial pool (P and N) which can subsequently be released, using lab and field experiments. This capability will complement standard laboratory analyses and enzyme hydrolysis methods.

3. Analysis of soil microbial community metagenomes to identify which pathways are active in different conditions. Sequence analyses will allow identification of the microbial group(s) responsible, aiding management of soil to optimise their abundance and activity.

4. Work with colleagues to model how long-term treatments and different plants affect the quantities and forms of inorganic/organic P and the dynamics of how these change with C and N over time, and to use the model to inform land management for optimal use of P resources.

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Dungait JA (2012) Advances in the understanding of nutrient dynamics and management in UK agriculture. in The Science of the total environment

 
Description COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT-Summary of the responses to the Consultative Communication on the Sustainable Use of Phosphorus [COM(2013) 517]
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
 
Description EU-COST FA0905 Mineral improved crop production for healthy food and feed
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/fa/Actions/FA0905manual
 
Description FOOD-CT-2006-016253 EU project on Public Health impact of long-term low-level mixed element exposure in susceptible population strata
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
Impact http://phime.oikon.hr/Portals/0/documents/PHIME_Final_Report.pdf
URL http://phime.oikon.hr/Portals/0/documents/PHIME_Final_Report.pdf
 
Description Houses of Parliment POSTNOTE 477: Phosphate Resources
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description Science Advisory Board Member for Plant Impact
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
 
Description BBSRC Grant: Exploiting root exudation of organic acids and phytases to enhance plant utilisation of soil phosphorus
Amount £296,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/K018795/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 01/2013 
End 04/2014
 
Description BBSRC Partnering Award - Building Phosphorus Research Potential: Developing existing methods and exploring the potential of emerging techniques.
Amount £29,300 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/l026309/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2014 
End 09/2017
 
Description BBSRC Partnering Award - Building Phosphorus Research Potential: Developing existing methods and exploring the potential of emerging techniques. 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Host a workshop and stakeholder meeting at Rothamsted comprising delegates from all three institutes to exchange knowledge, ideas and develop programs of work and future proposals focussing on phosphorus cycling in agricultural systems to support the BBSRC priority area of Food Security. To develop and carry out together a preliminary program of work on two BBSRC National Capabilities, namely the Rothamsted Long Term Experiments (LTEs) and the North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP). This will pump-prime BBSRC responsive mode grant proposals into phosphorus acquisition by arable crops and in grassland systems respectively.
Collaborator Contribution Workshop held at Rothamsted in October 2014 Stakeholder meeting held at Rothamsted October 2014 Disciplines involved are STRI - Dr Ben Turner is Director of the Soils Department at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. He is widely acknowledged as being one of the leading world experts in the field of soil and water phosphorus cycling, with particular expertise in organic phosphorus and its measurement. He has expertise in the measurement of organic phosphorus in waters and soil extracts using 31P-NMR and enzyme hydrolysis techniques, and has been fundamental in the development of these methods over the past 10 years. Ms Dayana Agudo is the laboratory superintendent of the STRI soils laboratory, and an expert in a wide range of techniques in phosphorus analysis, including enzyme hydrolysis and 31P-NMR sample preparation. Ms Alex Bielnicka is a research chemist with expertise in all aspects of phosphorus analysis. Rothamsted Research - Dr Martin Blackwell is PI on the BBSRC organic phosphorus project (BB/K018795/1) with Lancaster University, and is leading studies within Rothamsted which are utilising 31P-NMR and d18O-PO4 stable isotope techniques. Prof Steve McGrath is a PI on Rothamsted's Institute Strategic Programme (ISP) on Delivering Sustainable Systems, and leads the workpackage on "Optimisation of nutrients in soil-plant systems - Determining how phosphorus availability is regulated in soils" (BBS/E/C/00005197), which involves all the Rothamsted staff mentioned in this proposal. Dr Steve Granger is an early career scientist with expertise in the use and application of the d18O-PO4 stable isotope technique for the tracing of phosphate sources and is currently developing this methodology as a tool for indicating enzymatic processes in plants. Dr Jane Hawkins has expertise in the use of HPLC techniques for the analysis of organic compounds, and will work with Prof Haygarth and the postdoc appointed on the new BBSRC project at Lancaster University on the development of this method for measuring organic phosphorus compounds in solution. Lancaster University - Prof Phil Haygarth is an expert on soils and their interactions with connected water-bodies, from catchment to coast and plant to planet. He is lead PI on the BBSRC organic phosphorus project (BB/K018795/1) and currently the President of the British Society of Soil Science. Prof Hao Zhang has expertise in advanced environmental analytical techniques, and developed the DGT (Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films) method for measuring elements and compounds in soils. Dr Ben Surridge has expertise in the use of d18O-PO4 isotope tracers to investigate biological and geochemical controls on phosphorus cycling within freshwater.
Impact none as yet
Start Year 2014
 
Description BBSRC Partnering Award - Building Phosphorus Research Potential: Developing existing methods and exploring the potential of emerging techniques. 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Host a workshop and stakeholder meeting at Rothamsted comprising delegates from all three institutes to exchange knowledge, ideas and develop programs of work and future proposals focussing on phosphorus cycling in agricultural systems to support the BBSRC priority area of Food Security. To develop and carry out together a preliminary program of work on two BBSRC National Capabilities, namely the Rothamsted Long Term Experiments (LTEs) and the North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP). This will pump-prime BBSRC responsive mode grant proposals into phosphorus acquisition by arable crops and in grassland systems respectively.
Collaborator Contribution Workshop held at Rothamsted in October 2014 Stakeholder meeting held at Rothamsted October 2014 Disciplines involved are STRI - Dr Ben Turner is Director of the Soils Department at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. He is widely acknowledged as being one of the leading world experts in the field of soil and water phosphorus cycling, with particular expertise in organic phosphorus and its measurement. He has expertise in the measurement of organic phosphorus in waters and soil extracts using 31P-NMR and enzyme hydrolysis techniques, and has been fundamental in the development of these methods over the past 10 years. Ms Dayana Agudo is the laboratory superintendent of the STRI soils laboratory, and an expert in a wide range of techniques in phosphorus analysis, including enzyme hydrolysis and 31P-NMR sample preparation. Ms Alex Bielnicka is a research chemist with expertise in all aspects of phosphorus analysis. Rothamsted Research - Dr Martin Blackwell is PI on the BBSRC organic phosphorus project (BB/K018795/1) with Lancaster University, and is leading studies within Rothamsted which are utilising 31P-NMR and d18O-PO4 stable isotope techniques. Prof Steve McGrath is a PI on Rothamsted's Institute Strategic Programme (ISP) on Delivering Sustainable Systems, and leads the workpackage on "Optimisation of nutrients in soil-plant systems - Determining how phosphorus availability is regulated in soils" (BBS/E/C/00005197), which involves all the Rothamsted staff mentioned in this proposal. Dr Steve Granger is an early career scientist with expertise in the use and application of the d18O-PO4 stable isotope technique for the tracing of phosphate sources and is currently developing this methodology as a tool for indicating enzymatic processes in plants. Dr Jane Hawkins has expertise in the use of HPLC techniques for the analysis of organic compounds, and will work with Prof Haygarth and the postdoc appointed on the new BBSRC project at Lancaster University on the development of this method for measuring organic phosphorus compounds in solution. Lancaster University - Prof Phil Haygarth is an expert on soils and their interactions with connected water-bodies, from catchment to coast and plant to planet. He is lead PI on the BBSRC organic phosphorus project (BB/K018795/1) and currently the President of the British Society of Soil Science. Prof Hao Zhang has expertise in advanced environmental analytical techniques, and developed the DGT (Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films) method for measuring elements and compounds in soils. Dr Ben Surridge has expertise in the use of d18O-PO4 isotope tracers to investigate biological and geochemical controls on phosphorus cycling within freshwater.
Impact none as yet
Start Year 2014
 
Description BBSRC Partnering Award - Building Phosphorus Research Potential: Developing existing methods and exploring the potential of emerging techniques. 
Organisation Smithsonian Institution
Department Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Country Panama, Republic of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Host a workshop and stakeholder meeting at Rothamsted comprising delegates from all three institutes to exchange knowledge, ideas and develop programs of work and future proposals focussing on phosphorus cycling in agricultural systems to support the BBSRC priority area of Food Security. To develop and carry out together a preliminary program of work on two BBSRC National Capabilities, namely the Rothamsted Long Term Experiments (LTEs) and the North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP). This will pump-prime BBSRC responsive mode grant proposals into phosphorus acquisition by arable crops and in grassland systems respectively.
Collaborator Contribution Workshop held at Rothamsted in October 2014 Stakeholder meeting held at Rothamsted October 2014 Disciplines involved are STRI - Dr Ben Turner is Director of the Soils Department at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. He is widely acknowledged as being one of the leading world experts in the field of soil and water phosphorus cycling, with particular expertise in organic phosphorus and its measurement. He has expertise in the measurement of organic phosphorus in waters and soil extracts using 31P-NMR and enzyme hydrolysis techniques, and has been fundamental in the development of these methods over the past 10 years. Ms Dayana Agudo is the laboratory superintendent of the STRI soils laboratory, and an expert in a wide range of techniques in phosphorus analysis, including enzyme hydrolysis and 31P-NMR sample preparation. Ms Alex Bielnicka is a research chemist with expertise in all aspects of phosphorus analysis. Rothamsted Research - Dr Martin Blackwell is PI on the BBSRC organic phosphorus project (BB/K018795/1) with Lancaster University, and is leading studies within Rothamsted which are utilising 31P-NMR and d18O-PO4 stable isotope techniques. Prof Steve McGrath is a PI on Rothamsted's Institute Strategic Programme (ISP) on Delivering Sustainable Systems, and leads the workpackage on "Optimisation of nutrients in soil-plant systems - Determining how phosphorus availability is regulated in soils" (BBS/E/C/00005197), which involves all the Rothamsted staff mentioned in this proposal. Dr Steve Granger is an early career scientist with expertise in the use and application of the d18O-PO4 stable isotope technique for the tracing of phosphate sources and is currently developing this methodology as a tool for indicating enzymatic processes in plants. Dr Jane Hawkins has expertise in the use of HPLC techniques for the analysis of organic compounds, and will work with Prof Haygarth and the postdoc appointed on the new BBSRC project at Lancaster University on the development of this method for measuring organic phosphorus compounds in solution. Lancaster University - Prof Phil Haygarth is an expert on soils and their interactions with connected water-bodies, from catchment to coast and plant to planet. He is lead PI on the BBSRC organic phosphorus project (BB/K018795/1) and currently the President of the British Society of Soil Science. Prof Hao Zhang has expertise in advanced environmental analytical techniques, and developed the DGT (Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films) method for measuring elements and compounds in soils. Dr Ben Surridge has expertise in the use of d18O-PO4 isotope tracers to investigate biological and geochemical controls on phosphorus cycling within freshwater.
Impact none as yet
Start Year 2014
 
Description DGT-P studies in soils 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Soils have been sampled from: a) the Exhaustion Land experiment after harvest in 2013 and b) six farmers? experiment sites outside Rothamsted that have different soil types and increasing P treatments applied over 2008-2012, for Olsen and DGT analysis. This work is on-going, including a test of storage time on the apparent DGT results (using the Exhaustion Land experiment), which is essential if we are to use unique RRES archive samples in future DGT work.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Selenium speciation in biofortified crops under semiarid conditions 
Organisation University of Extremadura
Country Spain, Kingdom of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Use of our labs, equipment and our expertise
Collaborator Contribution Exchange of ideas and methods
Impact Poblaciones, M.J., Rodrigo S., Santamaría, O., McGrath S.P. (2014) Selenium speciation in biofortified crops under semiarid conditions. COST Action FA905 conference on "Agronomic, Molecular Genetics and Human Nutrition Approaches for Improving the Nutritional Quality and Safety of Food Crops", 17-19 March 2014, Antalya, Turkey. McGrath S.P., Poblaciones M.J. and Rodrigo S.M. (2014) Biofortification of field crops with selenium in Mediterranean conditions. In: Selenium in the Environment and Human Health - Bañuelos, Lin & Yin (Eds), pp. 115-117. Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-1-138-00017-9.
Start Year 2012
 
Description XANES 
Organisation Canadian Light Source
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Using L-edge for identification of P species in Broadbalk drainage samples.
Start Year 2013
 
Description European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact ESPP brings together partners in industry, knowledge institutes and public establishments to promote and implement phosphorus sustainability in Europe

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/
 
Description HGCA Annual Agronomists Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk on micronutrient uptake by crops

no actual impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description International Year of Soils 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Received lots of positive feedback from the public

unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Stakeholder meeting on the Sustainable Use of Phosphorus Resources in Agriculture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 25 participants from various backgrounds- industry , policy makers and research attended a round table meeting including research presentations from Scientists and feedback what the challenges of Phosphorus in agriculture are from industry perception. Discussion included:
Industry Challenges
Prediction of long-term availability of phosphorus (P) to crops under prevailing and future P supply
Science to guide best management practices for recycling P
Research required to improve fertiliser recommendations for more efficient use of P

Meeting help to highlight where possible research should follow next
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description The need for sulphur fertiliser for arable crops in the UK. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014