Preferences of Pinus sylvestris seedling roots for different phosphorus sources under phosphorus-deficient conditions

Kaiyu Lei, Hamish Creber, Roland Bol, Albert Tietema, Saran P. Sohi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Purpose: Phosphorus (P) is a limiting nutrient in many managed forests. To further understand the risks and benefits of biochars as sustainable P source in forest management, an improved mechanistic understanding of its interactions in root systems is required. Methods: A rhizobox experiment was conducted to observe root response of P. sylvestris (Scots pine) seedlings to different biochars in comparison to triple superphosphate (TSP) fertiliser as a P source. Three types of wood-derived biochar were compared: biochar from mixed softwood pellets (“Reference biochar”); from the vascular cambium zone of Picea sitchensis (“VCZ biochar”) and from mixed softwood pellets infused with TSP (“Processed biochar”). These biochars presented a range of available P from low to high. Seedling root development was spatially analysed using GIS software. Results: The total length of P. sylvestris roots did not significantly differ between treatments. However, seedling roots showed strong preference for soil proximal to VCZ biochar and strong avoidance to TSP fertiliser. There was a milder avoidance effect for Processed biochar. Differences in root responses could be explained by available P: roots favored a moderate, sustained P source and avoided high available P sources. The avoidance effect can be attributed partially to lower soil pH around TSP fertiliser. Conclusion: The extent concentration and duration of P availability affects the root response of P. sylverstris to P sources. Under P-deficient conditions, P. sylvestris root growth was markedly improved by introducing biochar with a certain P concentration, and VCZ biochar has potential as an effective source of P in forest establishment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-244
Number of pages16
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume482
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Biochar
  • Phosphorus
  • Rhizosphere
  • Roots
  • Spatial analysis

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