Differential effect of coal combustion products on the bioavailability of phosphorus between inorganic and organic nutrient sources

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Seshadri, B, Bolan, N, Choppala, G & Naidu, R 2013, 'Differential effect of coal combustion products on the bioavailability of phosphorus between inorganic and organic nutrient sources', Journal of Hazerdous Materials, vol. 261, pp. 817-825.

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In farming systems, all the applied phosphorus (P) is not available to plants because they are either adsorbed in soil or lost to the environment through leaching or runoff. The effect of coal combustion products (CCPs) for enhancing the bioavailability of applied phosphorus (P) in soil was examined separately for inorganic (KH2PO4 – PP) and organic (poultry manure – PM) P treatments, where fluidised bed combustion (FBC) ash emerged as the most effective amendment. Greenhouse study was conducted by growing mustard plants on FBC amended soils under leaching and non-leaching setups. The FBC increased the biomass yield for organic P treatments in the first crop and increased for both inorganic and organic P in the second cropping. The increase in cumulative yield was highest in leached PP and unleached PM treatments. Field experiment assessed the effectiveness of FBC on inorganic (single super phosphate – SSP) and organic P (biosolids – BS) uptake by mustard and sunflower plants. In the first cropping, the yield was higher in crops treated with SSP alone. In the second crop, yields were higher in the presence than absence of FBC, as reflected by the high relative agronomic effectiveness (RAE) exhibited by BS + FBC (462%) combination. Overall, FBC used in these experiments enhanced bioavailability of P in soil through adsorption and mineralisation of inorganic and organic P, respectively as evident from phosphatase activity and Olsen P relationship. Hence the differential effect of CCPs has not only decreased the loss of applied P (from inorganic and organic sources) to the environment, but also enhanced the P bioavailability in the soil. Among the three CCPs used in the preliminary experiments, FBC proved to perform better than the other two and hence can be recommended for agricultural and environmental applications targeting P issues.