Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Research article
21 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 21 Dec 2014

Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium release from two compressed fertilizers: column experiments

M. J. Fernández-Sanjurjo, E. Alvarez-Rodríguez, A. Núñez-Delgado, M. L. Fernández-Marcos, and A. Romar-Gasalla

Abstract. The objective of this work was to study nutrients release from two compressed nitrogen–potassium–phosphorous (NPK) fertilizers. In the Lourizán Forest Center, tablet-type controlled-release fertilizers (CRF) were prepared by compressing various mixtures of fertilizers without covers or binders. We used soil columns (50 cm long and 7.3 cm inner diameter) that were filled with soil from the surface layer (0–20 cm) of an A horizon corresponding to a Cambic Umbrisol. Tablets of two slow-release NPK fertilizers (11–18–11 or 8–8–16) were placed into the soil (within the first 3 cm), and then water was percolated through the columns in a saturated regime for 80 days. Percolates were analyzed for N, P, K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+. These elements were also determined in soil and fertilizer tablets at the end of the trials. Nutrient concentrations were high in the first leachates and reached a steady state when 1426 mm of water had been percolated, which is equivalent to approximately 1.5 years of rainfall in this geographic area. In the whole trial, both tablets lost more than 80% of their initial N, P and K contents. However, K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+ were the most leached, whereas N and P were lost in leachates to a lesser extent. Nutrient release was slower from the tablet with a composition of 8–8–16 than from the 11–18–11 fertilizer. In view of that, the 8–8–16 tablet can be considered more adequate for crops with a nutrient demand sustained over time. At the end of the trial, the effects of these fertilizers on soil chemical parameters were still evident, with a significant increase of pH, available Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, P and effective cation exchange capacity (eCEC) in the fertilized columns, as well as a significant decrease in exchangeable Al3+, reaching values < 0.08 cmol (+) kg−1.