The aim of the presented study was to prepare the phosphate sorption isotherms of 20 European volcanic soil profiles and some other Hungarian and German volcanic soils (n = 114) used in the experiment and to establish the soil characteristics determining the phosphate sorption capacity of these soils. The Langmuir isotherm well describes the phosphate sorption of European volcanic soils at bright concentration interval 0–600 mg·dm
P. The calculated phosphate adsorption maximum (P
) is an excellent soil property for characterizing the surface activity of soils developed on volcanic parent material. The calculated phosphate sorption maxima of soils included in the experiment ranged from 0 to 10.000 mg P·kg
. Some of the volcanic soils sorbed a high ratio of the added phosphate at low concentrations, while others sorbed somewhat less. The difference in the phosphate binding affinity of soils caused the differences in the shape of the Langmuir adsorption isotherms. P retention % is a WRB diagnostic requirement of andic soil horizon. It was supposed that the phosphate sorption maximum (P
) gives a better characterization of the surface reactivity of volcanic soils. As it was predicted, oxalate soluble Al is the most important soil property, which dominantly (in 73%) explained the phosphate sorption ability of European volcanic soils.
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