Trace elements in rock phosphates and P containing mineral and organo-mineral fertilizers sold in Germany
68 rock phosphates and 162 P containing (organo-)mineral fertilizers sold in Germany were evaluated with regard to trace element contents.While Al, As, B, Be, Cd, Cr,Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se, Tl, U, and Zn were higher in sedimentary than in igneous rock phosphates, the opposite was true for Co, Cu, Sn, Mn, Ti, Fe, and Sr. Comparing element concentrations to the currently valid legal limit values defined by the German Fertilizer Ordinance, it was found that some PK and many straight P fertilizers (superphosphate, triple superphosphate, partly acidulated rock phosphates) exceeded the limit of 50 mg Cd/kg P2O5. Mean values for As, Ni, Pb, and Tl remained below legal limits in almost all cases. While no legal limit has been defined for U in Germany yet, the limit of 50 mg U/kg P2O5 for P containing fertilizers proposed by the German Commission for the Protection of Soils was clearly exceeded by mean values for all fertilizer types analyzed. A large share of the samples evaluated in this work contained essential trace elements at high concentrations, with many of them not being declared as such. Furthermore, trace elements supplied with these fertilizers at a fertilization rate leveling P uptake would exceed trace element uptake by crops. This may become most relevant for B and Fe, since many crops are sensitive to an oversupply of B, and Fe loads exceeding plant uptake may immobilize P supplies for the crops by forming Fe phosphate salts. The sample set included two products made from thermochemically treated sewage sludge ash. The products displayed very high concentrations of Fe and Mn and exceeded the legal limit for Ni, emphasizing the necessity to continue research on heavy metal removal from recycled raw materials and the development of environmentally friendly and agriculturally efficient fertilizer products.