Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for plant growth. On account of its low solubility in soil, P is often a limiting factor to optimum crop growth and therefore P fertilisation is an important aspect of nutrient management plans to ensure profitable and sustainable crop production. Plant P availability is controlled by sorption, desorption and precipitation of P from P released during weathering of P minerals and applied P. Much research has been focused on the fate of P in soils, fertilisation practices and how to improve its use efficiency in cropped soils. The components, forms, availability and cycling of P in soils are summarized in this review taking into account the complex and interrelated processes which determine the amounts and availability of several inorganic and organic forms of soil P. The importance of plant and soil testing to assess plant nutrient status and some recent developments on microbial P solubilisation into classical knowledge on the subject are also covered. The review recommends the potential use of P as biofertilisers in an attempt to reduce reliance on expensive mineral fertilisers.
Key words: Biofertilisers, crop productivity, phosphorus dynamics, phosphorus fertilisation, plant testing, soil testing.
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