Baugé, S. M. Y., Lavkulich, L. M. and Schreier, H. E. 2013. Serpentine affected soils and the formation of magnesium phosphates (struvite). Can. J. Soil Sci. 93: 161-172. The Sumas River watershed, located in the intensive agricultural region of the Lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia (Canada), contains serpentine asbestos from a natural landslide. Serpentinic soils have a high Mg to Ca ratio that can affect soil fertility, including soil-solution P relations. The objectives of the study were: (i) to evaluate some common methods of estimating plant available phosphorus in the surface horizons of the serpentine-affected soils and those receiving large quantities of livestock manure, and (ii) to determine if there is evidence for the formation of soluble Mg phosphates, e.g., struvite, a meta-stable P phase in these soils. Seven soil nutrient extractants were used to determine major and minor elemental concentrations. Acid ammonium oxalate, 1 M HCl and Bray P1 extractions were most effective for measuring available phosphorus in these soils. Manure and fertilizer applications appear to favor the formation of Mg-phosphates, and are considered to be more soluble in terms of phosphorus than either calcium-phosphates or aluminum/iron-phosphates. X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance examinations gave positive evidence for the presence of struvite in the soils.
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Vol. 93 • No. 2