The degree of phosphorus saturation (DPS) of agricultural soils is studied worldwide for risk assessment of phosphorus (P) losses. In previous studies, DPS could be reliably estimated from water-soluble P (WSP) for European and Brazilian soils. In the present study, we correlated measured WSP and Mehlich-1 P (M1P) from soils of Minas Gerais (MG) and Pernambuco (PE) (R2 = 0.94, n = 59) to create a DPS map from monitoring data. The resulting DPS map showed high spatial variability and low values of DPS (54 ± 22%, mean and standard deviation; n = 1,827). Measured soil DPS values amounted to 63 ± 14% and resulted in relatively low dissolved P concentrations measured in a surface runoff study in MG. However, fertilizer grains on the soil surface led to high WSP values (>30 mg/kg) indicating high risks of dissolved P losses. We suppose that small Oxisol particles with Fe and Al hydroxides sorbed most of the dissolved fertilizer P in runoff so that P was mainly exported in particulate form. In soils with lower contents of P sorption and binding partners, e.g. Entisols in PE, this effect may be less dominant. Consequently, superficial fertilizer effects have to be considered in addition to DPS in risk assessment of P losses from agricultural areas in Brazil.

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