A 3D image-based modelling approach for understanding spatiotemporal processes in phosphorus fertiliser dissolution, soil buffering and uptake by plant roots

K. A. Williams, D. M. Mckay Fletcher, C. Petroselli, S. A. Ruiz, T. Roose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Phosphorus (P) is a key yield-limiting nutrient for crops, but the main source of P fertiliser is finite. Therefore, efficient fertilisation is crucial. Optimal P application requires understanding of the dynamic processes affecting P availability to plants, including fertiliser dissolution rate and soil buffer power. However, standard soil testing methods sample at fixed time points, preventing a mechanistic understanding of P uptake variability. We used image-based modelling to investigate the effects of fertiliser dissolution rate and soil buffer power on P uptake by wheat roots imaged using X-ray CT. We modelled uptake based on 1-day, 1-week, and 14-week dissolution of a fixed quantity of total P for two common soil buffer powers. We found rapid fertiliser dissolution increased short-term root uptake, but total uptake from 1-week matched 1-day dissolution. We quantified the large effects root system architecture had on P uptake, finding that there were trade-offs between total P uptake and uptake per unit root length, representing a carbon investment/phosphorus uptake balance. These results provide a starting point for predictive modelling of uptake from different P fertilisers in different soils. With the addition of further X-ray CT image datasets and a wider range of conditions, our simulation approach could be developed further for rapid trialling of fertiliser-soil combinations to inform field-scale trials or management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15891
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2022

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