How to Add Phosphorus to Soil? 6 Amazing Ways
Phosphorus is beneficial to plant soil and here you will know all about how to add Phosphorus to soil. Do the plants in your garden have poor seed development and flower maturity even in the growing season? Is there any dark purple or dark greenish/blue pigments along the outer leaves of these plants? If yes, chances are these plants may be low in phosphorus – one of the essential elements for plant growth along with nitrogen and potassium (NPK).
This essential element is needed by plants for the synthesis of a crucial pigment called chlorophyll. With it, they cannot carry out the process of photosynthesis, and make their food. In such a case, if your soil lacks this nutrient, the best solution is to provide it with it. After all, it is among those elements that cannot be produced by soil organisms. However, the real question is how to add phosphorus to the soil. Let us find out!
Why Is Phosphorus Essential for Plants?
Before we find out an answer to “How do I add phosphorus to my soil,” let us learn why you need to do so. Why is this element so crucial for the growth of your plants? For those who are not aware, there are 17 vital nutrients that all plants need for development and reproduction. Out of these, three of them are the most essential. Phosphorus is one among them along with nitrogen and potassium.
Now, these are essential nutrients due to a reason. Plants use them in large amounts, and any shortage of them can limit plant development. Further, for the process that involves plants converting the sun’s energy into food, oil, and fiber, phosphorus is an important necessity. It is because it helps in the production of chlorophyll that aids this process (photosynthesis).
Along with it, this element is also needed for transferring genetic information to plants. It is also essential for energy storage, energy transfer, and the metabolism of sugars. Not only this but without phosphorus, cell enlargement and cell division in plants are also affected. In addition to these internal plant functions, this element also improves the quality of plants, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
The benefits of phosphorus for plants do not end here. The element also encourages healthy root growth. It, further, gives the ground a cover against soil erosion. Phosphorus also aids in early shoot growth and healthy seed development. Furthermore, it provides plants protection against diseases, moisture stress, and cold temperatures, and enhances the efficient use of other essential nutrients. Here is what the element can do for your plants at a glance:
- Support plant growth throughout their complete life cycle
- Improve crop quality and enhance flower development
- Boost resistance to plant diseases
- Encourage uniform and earlier plant maturity
- Promote root development and lift stalk and stem strength
- Progress nitrogen-fixing capacity of legumes
- Enhance seed production
What Are Some Signs of a Phosphorus Deficiency?
Now that you know how essential Phosphorus is for plants, let us move ahead in the post. Before finding out how to add water-soluble phosphorus to soil, let us first see how to figure out that you need to do so. When it comes to phosphorus deficiency, spotting it can be quite tricky. After all, stunted growth and weak plants can be due to various other options.
Further, if there are no healthy plants to start with, how does one figure out a phosphorus deficiency? In case your plants were healthy earlier, stunted plant growth is sure a sign of phosphorus deficiency.
If they were not, you need to look out for a dark green/reddish purple tint on your plants (leaves and stems) to determine the same. Along with this, the safest bet to determine this deficiency is to get your soil tested. After all, you do not want your soil to have too much phosphorus, as well.2
How To Know If Your Soil Has Too Much Phosphorus?
The best way to get rid of a phosphorus deficiency is by adding phosphorus to your soil. While there are several organic and chemical solutions to this, the real question is how much phosphorus should we add to depleted soil. What if you overdo it? To prevent this, you need to know what phosphorus toxicity looks like.
A deficiency of phosphorus in your soil can affect your plants adversely. However, so can an excess of it. Not only your plants, but phosphorus toxicity can also even harm the environment if you decide to use chemical fertilizers as a phosphorus deficiency amendment. Coming to plants, an oversaturation of this element can affect the growth of beneficial soil organisms.
An excellent example of these organisms is mycorrhizal fungi. Now, if these beneficial microbes are not in the picture, plants will have to put way too much energy into root growth. While they may be able to do it well, this will affect the growth of various other things like leaves, flowers, aerial stems, stalks, fruits, etc.
Without these beneficial organisms, plants must put more energy into root growth at the expense of the production of aerial stems, stalks, leaves, flowers, and fruits. In terms of environmental damage, if the excess phosphorus seeps into the water, it can cause serious issues like algal blooms. This can lead to the death of all the organisms in that particular water body.
So, the next time you notice that your plants are not growing well, do not just search for how to add nitrogen and phosphorus to the soil. Instead, make sure to get your soil tested for nutrients and then make an informed choice. With a quality soil test, you will be able to manage not only the phosphorus levels in your soil but also other essential minerals and trace elements.3
How To Add Phosphorus to Soil: Simple Steps
Now, let us move on to the most crucial part of this post – how to add phosphorus to the soil. There are numerous ways to do so. Once you have determined that the phosphorus levels in your garden soil are low, you can get started with all the solutions below. Of course, some farmers rely on human and animal urine. Yes, you read that right!
However, you can also choose other organic or chemical fertilizers available for the same. Some great examples of the organic choices that you can add to your soil include mushroom and hair compost, bone meal, bat guano, burned cucumber skins, shrimp and crab waste, etc. As for the inorganic options, you can easily find various phosphorus chemical fertilizers online.
Here are some of the best sources of phosphorus that you can add to your soil explained further. Have a look:
The first thing that you can use to treat a phosphorus deficiency is urine. Yes, we know it sounds unpleasant and bizarre. However, it is proven that human and animal urine can certainly be used to provide some of the macronutrients that are essential for plant growth in the soil. If you own a small garden, you can certainly give it a shot.
That being said, you need to keep in mind that it also is very rich in nitrogen. Therefore, if you do not use it the right way, it can lead to burns on smaller plants and can even destroy them. If the thought of using urine to treat a phosphorus deficiency disgusts you, move on to the next option.
Steamed Bone Meal
The next solution for how to add phosphorus to soil is with the help of a steamed bone meal. This particular phosphorus amendment is made of ground cattle bones. The phosphorus content in this one is quite high. However, if the pH level of your soil is more than 7, this might not be a great option for you as the phosphorus in it may not be released into the soil for the use of plants.
Fish Bone Meal
In case a steamed bone meal (the ones from cattle bones mentioned above) does not work for you, you can also use a fish bone meal. This one too is a great source of phosphorus and can be readily assimilated by plant roots as well as microorganisms that are present in the soil.
The next phosphorus amendment that you can use for your garden soil is guano. If you are not aware of what it is, this is accumulated excrement. Yes, that’s right it is the excreta of fruit-eating birds and bats, and surprisingly, is an excellent source of phosphorus for those who are looking to provide it to crops in a garden or container.
You can also use chicken manure as a phosphorus deficiency amendment. It is a great option if you are raising some chickens and have their manure. This soil amendment is a good source of potassium, as well.
The final solution for how to add phosphorus to soil is with the help of pig manure. Like chicken manure, pig manure is a good source of phosphorus along with various other macronutrients. That being said, you need to know that it may have pathogens and parasites that can infect humans. So, if you decide to use it, make sure to hot-compost it before using it.4
So, this is your solution for how to add phosphorus to the soil. Whatever amendment you decide to use for it, make sure to get your soil tested before. This will give you an idea about what kind of fertilizer you will need and how much of it you want to use. After all, even overdoing it can harm your precious plants.