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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 73 No. 6, p. 2170-2176
    Received: Oct 15, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): mmamo3@unl.edu
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Phosphorus Sorption as Affected by Soil Properties and Termite Activity in Eastern and Southern Africa

  1. Martha Mamo * and
  2. Charles Wortmann
  1. Dep. of Agronomy and Horticulture, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583


Phosphorus is often the limiting nutrient to crop production in eastern Africa. Efficient management of P requires an understanding of the factors affecting availability of soil native P and applied fertilizer P. The objectives of this study were (i) to evaluate the relationships between soil properties and P sorption characteristics, and (ii) to assess the effect of termite activities on soil properties and P sorption characteristics. Phosphorus sorption isotherms were determined for 36 soils, including 7 samples from termite mounds and surrounding non-termite soils from Uganda and Mozambique. Ammonium-oxalate extractable Al (Alox) was the most important property explaining over 90% of the variation in P sorption maximum (S max) for Uganda and Mozambique soils. However, for the Ethiopia soils 88% of the variation was explained by Mehlich-3 extractable Ca, ammonium-oxalate extractable P (Pox), and sand content. The S max of Uganda and Mozambique soils increased by 44 to 390% due to increased clay content from termite activities. The higher S max of termite mounds implies a greater demand for P fertilizer for low P soils but also a higher P storage capacity and reduced risk of P leaching. Termite mound could be considered as a potential soil amendment.

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