Fertilization of drained peatland forests with easily soluble or slow-release apatite fertilizers can increase phosphorus (P) export to water courses, especially when the soil is low in aluminum (Al) and iron (Fe) hydroxides and oxides. Application of Al and Fe together with P increases P adsorption to the soil and decreases the risk of leaching. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of recycled iron phosphate (rFePO4) as forest fertilizer raw material from environmental and forest production perspectives. Trial fertilizers with different mixtures of rFePO4 and Russian Kola apatite (Kap) were applied on 15 mini-catchments (area 100m2), where the discharge at the outlet was collected, sampled and analyzed throughout the about 4-year measurement period. The foliage P content and height growth of the trees on the mini-catchments were measured. The biomass growth of the extramatrical mycorrhizal mycelia (EMM) was studied with a separate in-growth mesh bag experiment conducted on the same site. The results indicated no increase in phosphorus export to surface waters after application of rFePO4 and 25/75 and 50/50 mixtures of rFePO4 and Kap. In contrast to earlier studies showing a relatively high P export with different types of apatite fertilizers, the Kap fertilizer showed only minor phosphorus export. The height growth measurements and needle analyses of the juvenile Scots pine stands indicated poor P availability from pure rFePO4, but the P availability from the 50/50 and 25/75 mixtures of rFePO4 and Kap was similar to pure Kap. The mixtures of Kap and rFePO4 enhanced the EMM biomass by 2- to 3-fold, whereas Kap and rFePO4 alone, and high P availability (superphosphate) had no significant effect compared to non-P controls. The increase in EMM biomass as induced by concurrent application of Kap and rFePO4 was not clearly reflected in tree growth and P acquisition. However, longer follow-up studies than in this one may be needed in order to verify the effect of increased EMM biomass on mycorrhizal mycelia mediated nutrient uptake and tree growth.
- Iron phosphate
- Peatland forestry