Fertilizer Potential of Struvite as Affected by Nitrogen Form in the Rhizosphere
Struvite is increasingly considered a promising alternative to mined phosphorus (P) fertilizer. However, its solubility is very low under neutral to alkaline pH while it increases with acidification. Here, we investigated whether supplying ammonium to stimulate rhizosphere acidification might improve struvite solubility at the vicinity of roots and, ultimately, enhance P uptake by plants. Using a RHIZOtest design, we studied changes in soil pH, P availability and P uptake by ryegrass in the
... ryegrass in the rhizosphere and bulk soil supplied with either ammonium or nitrate under three P treatments: no-P, triple super phosphate and struvite. We found that supplying ammonium decreased rhizosphere pH by more than three units, which in turn increased soluble P concentrations by three times compared with nitrate treatments. However, there was no difference between P treatments, which was attributed to the increase of soluble Al concentration in the rhizosphere, which subsequently controlled P availability by precipitating it under the form of variscite-like minerals (predicted using Visual MINTEQ). Moreover, although ammonium supply increased soluble P concentration, it did not improve P uptake by plants, likely due to the absence of P deficiency. Further studies, especially in low-P soils, are thus needed to elucidate the role of nitrogen form on P uptake in the presence of struvite. More generally, our results highlight the complexity of manipulating rhizosphere processes and stress the need to consider all the components of the soil-plant system.