skip to main content


Title: Micro-scale heterogeneity of soil phosphorus depends on soil substrate and depth

Soils comprise various heterogeneously distributed pools of lithogenic, free organic, occluded, adsorbed, and precipitated phosphorus (P) forms, which differ depending on soil forming factors. Small-scale heterogeneity of element distributions recently has received increased attention in soil science due to its influence on soil functions and soil fertility. We investigated the micro-scale distribution of total P and different specific P binding forms in aggregates taken from a high-P clay-rich soil and a low-P sandy soil by combining advanced spectrometric and spectroscopic techniques to introduce new insights on P accessibility and availability in soils. Here we show that soil substrate and soil depth determine micro-scale P heterogeneity in soil aggregates. In P-rich areas of all investigated soil aggregates, P was predominantly co-located with aluminium and iron oxides and hydroxides, which are known to strongly adsorb P. Clay minerals were co-located with P only to a lesser extent. In the low-P topsoil aggregate, the majority of the P was bound organically. Aluminium and iron phosphate predominated in the quartz-rich low-P subsoil aggregate. Sorbed and mineral P phases determined P speciation in the high-P top- and subsoil, and apatite was only detected in the high-P subsoil aggregate. Lastly, our results indicate that micro-scale spatialmore » and chemical heterogeneity of P influences P accessibility and bioavailability.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ; ORCiD logo [1] ;  [1]
  1. Technical Univ. of Munich, Freising (Germany)
  2. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
  3. Elettra-Sincrotrone Trieste S.C.p.A., Trieste (Italy)
  4. European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble (France)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; Element cycles; Geochemistry
OSTI Identifier: