Diagnosing Phosphorus Deficiency


  Historical Information
  Phosphorus Functions in Plants
  Nature and Transformations of Soil Phosphorus
Diagnosing Phosphorus Deficiency
  Visual Symptoms of Deficiency and Excess
  Tissue Testing for Phosphorus
  Soil Testing for Phosphorus
Factors Affecting Management of Phosphorus Fertilization
  Crop Response to Phosphorus
  Soil Water
  Soil Temperature
  Sources of Phosphorus
  Timing of Application of Phosphorus Fertilizers
  Placement of Phosphorus Fertilizers
  Foliar-Applied Phosphorus Fertilization
  Fertilization in Irrigation Water

Visual Symptoms of Deficiency and Excess

Phosphorus deficiency suppresses or delays growth and maturity. Although phosphorus- deficient plants are generally stunted in appearance, they seldom exhibit the conspicuous foliar symptoms characteristic of some of the other nutrient deficiencies. Furthermore, appreciable overlap often occurs with the symptoms of other nutrient deficiencies. Plant stems or leaves are sometimes dark green, often developing red and purple colors. However, when weather is cool purpling of leaves can also be associated with nitrogen deficiency, as is often observed in Brassica species, or with phosphorus deficiency.

Plants stunted by phosphorus deficiency often have small, dark-green leaves and short and slender stems. Sustained phosphorus deficiency will probably produce smaller-sized fruit and limited harvestable vegetable mass. Because phosphorus is mobile in plants, it is translocated readily from old to young leaves as deficiency occurs, and chlorosis and necrosis on older leaves is sometimes observed. Readers are referred to tables of phosphorus deficiency symptoms specific to individual crops and compiled by other authors (40–43).

Most soils readily buffer phosphorus additions, and phosphorus is seldom present in the soil solution at levels that cause direct toxicity. Perhaps the most common symptoms of phosphorus excess are phosphate-induced micronutrient deficiencies, particularly Zn or Cu deficiencies (43,44).