The reaction mechanisms of phosphate-bearing mineral phases from sewage sludge ash-based fertilizers in soil were determined by Raman and synchrotron infrared microspectroscopy. Different reaction mechanisms in wet soil were found for calcium and magnesium (pyro-) phosphates. Calcium orthophosphates were converted over time to hydroxyapatite. Conversely, different magnesium phosphates were transformed to trimagnesium phosphate. Since the magnesium phosphates are unable to form an apatite structure, the plant-available phosphorus remains in the soil, leading to better growth results observed in agricultural pot experiments. The pyrophosphates also reacted very differently. Calcium pyrophosphate is unreactive in soil. In contrast, magnesium pyrophosphate quickly formed plant-available dimagnesium phosphate.

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