Usefulness of Mehlich-3 test in the monitoring of phosphorus dispersion from Polish arable soils

Environ Monit Assess. 2018 Apr 19;190(5):298. doi: 10.1007/s10661-018-6685-4.


A considerable area of soils with low abundance of plant-available phosphorus and relatively low consumption of phosphorus fertilisers recorded in Poland over the last 20-25 years suggests that the dispersion of phosphates from arable soils in Poland can be low. The literature, however, provides reports on a considerable share of Polish agriculture in phosphorus pollution of Baltic Sea waters. The literature provides no data concerning phosphorus sorption parameters of arable soils in Poland. Due to this, the study involved the analysis of sorption properties: 1-point phosphorus sorption index (PSI) and degree of phosphorus saturation, based on molar ratio P, Al, and Fe determined by the Mehlich-3 method (DPS-1M3 = P / (Al + Fe) and DPS-2M3 = P / Al), 59 soils representing the main types of texture of soils in Poland, characterised by variable content of plant-available phosphorus by Egner-Riehm DL, organic carbon, and soil pH. The obtained results suggest that the soil texture has a lower effect on sorption properties (PSI) than the degree of acidification. Sorption parameters of soils increased with soil acidification as a result of an increase in the content of Al and Fe extracted by the Mehlich-3 extract in strongly acidified soils. An important finding of our study was evidencing that within the same class of abundance in plant-available phosphorus, the soils varied in the degree of phosphorus saturation and content of active phosphorus. This suggests the possibility of losses of phosphorus even from soils with low abundance of the component provided they are characterised by a high value of parameters DPS-1M3 and DPS-2M3.

Keywords: Degree of P soil saturation; Mehlich-3 extraction; Phosphorus; Risk assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Fertilizers / analysis
  • Phosphorus / analysis*
  • Poland
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*


  • Fertilizers
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Phosphorus