Determination of total organic phosphorus in samples of mineral soils

  • Armi Kaila University of Helsinki, Department of Agricultural Chemistry


In this paper some observations on the estimation of organic phosphorus in mineral soils are reported. The fact is emphasized that the accuracy of all the methods available is relatively poor. Usually, there are no reasons to pay attention to differences less than about 20 ppm. of organic P. Analyses performed on 345 samples of Finnish mineral soils by the extraction method of MEHTA et. al. (10) and by a simple procedure adopted by the author (successive extractions with 4 N H2SO4 and 0.5 N NaOH at room temperature in the ratio of 1 to 100) gave, on the average, equal results. It seemed to be likely that the MEHTA method removed the organic phosphorus more completely than did the less vigorous method, but in the former the partial hydrolysis of organic phosphorus compounds tends to be higher than in the latter. An attempt was made to find out whether the differences between the respective values for organic phosphorus obtained by an ignition method and the simple extraction method could be connected with any characteristics of the soil. No correlation or only a low correlation coefficient could be calculated between the difference in the results of these two methods and e. g. the pH-value, the content of clay, organic carbon, aluminium and iron soluble in Tamm’s acid oxalate, the indicator of the phosphate sorption capacity, or the »Fe-bound» inorganic phosphorus, respectively. The absolute difference tended to increase with an increase in the content of organic phosphorus. For the 250 samples of surface soils analyzed, the ignition method gave values which were, on the average, about 50 ppm. higher than the results obtained by the extraction procedure. The corresponding difference for the 120 samples from deeper layers was about 20 ppm of organic P. The author recommends, for the present, the determination of the total soil organic phosphorus as an average of the results obtained by the ignition method and the extraction method.


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Jan 1, 1962
How to Cite
Kaila, A. (1962). Determination of total organic phosphorus in samples of mineral soils. Agricultural and Food Science, 34(1), 187-196.