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Comparison of the effects of potassium fertilizer on the yield, potassium content and quality of 22 different vegetable and agricultural crops

  • D. J. Greenwood (a1), T. J. Cleaver (a1), Mary K. Turner (a1), J. Hunt (a1), K. B. Niendorf (a1) and S. M. H. Loquens (a1)...

Summary

Sixty-one experiments with 15 levels of K fertilizer in the presence of excess N and P fertilizer were carried out on adjacent sites of the same field. Yield was always related to level of K fertilizer by a ‘diminishing returns’ type curve, and a derived equation, which defined relative responsiveness in terms of a single parameter, fitted the data for each crop very satisfactorily. Although the responsiveness of many of the crops was similar there were marked differences and the optimum levels of K (defined as the level at which a further 10 kg/ha increased yield by 1%) varied from 0 to 360 kg/ha, depending on the crop. Responsiveness was largely independent of the plant family to which the crop belonged, but was related to the mean plant weight atharvest; the larger the weight the less reponsive the crop. No general relation existed between responsiveness and duration of growth.

The % K in the dry matter of leaves (including stems) at harvest of crops receiving the optimum levels of K fertilizer was mainly determined by the family. It was generally between 0·9 and 1·1 for the Amaryllidaceae, between 1·1 and 1·2 for the Leguminosae and between 1·9 and 2·5% for the Cruciferae. The difference between the % K in the dry matter with the optimum level of K fertilizer and that with no fertilizer was proportional to responsiveness. Percentage K at harvest was a good indicator of the extent to which crop growth was restricted by lack of potassium.

At harvest crops receiving the optimum levels of K fertilizer contained between 29 and 220 kg/ha of K, but uptake increased asymptotically to a maximum as K applications were raised to higher levels. Maximum uptake for nearly all crops was almost double the uptake with the optimum fertilizer application.

Percentage recovery of 100 kg/ha of added K fertilizer varied between 8 and 70%, roughly in proportion to the total crop dry weight, which varied between 1 and 15 t/ha.

Effects of level of K fertilizer on crop quality were also measured and over the practical range of applications the effects were generally small.

The differences between the K requirements of crops are discussed and it is argued that the responsiveness of one crop relative to that of another would be expected to be similar on a range of soils.

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References

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The Journal of Agricultural Science
  • ISSN: 0021-8596
  • EISSN: 1469-5146
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