, Volume 79, Issue 2, pp 113-123

Enhancing the agronomic effectiveness of natural phosphate rock with poultry manure: a way forward to sustainable crop production

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Abstract

Phosphorus inputs are required in highly weathered tropical soils for sustainable crop production. However, high cost and limited access to mineral P fertilizers limit their use by resource-poor farmers in West Africa. Direct application of finely ground phosphate rock (PR) is a promising alternative but low solubility of PR hampers its use. Co-application of PR with manure could be a low cost means of improving the solubility of natural PR and improve their agronomic effectiveness. Our objective was to quantitatively estimate the enhancement effect of poultry manure on P availability from low reactive PR (Togo phosphate rock) applied to highly weathered soils. We utilized two highly weathered soils from Ghana and Brazil for this greenhouse study. Using 32P isotopic tracers, the agronomic effectiveness of poultry-manure-amended Togo rock phosphate (TPR) was compared with partially acidulated Togo rock phosphate (PAPR) and triple superphosphate (TSP). Four rates of poultry manure: 0, low (30 mg P kg−1 soil), high (60 mg P kg−1 soil) and very high (120 mg P kg−1 soil) were, respectively, added to a constant amendment (60 mg P kg−1 soil) of the P sources and applied to each pot of 4 kg soil. A Randomized Complete Block Design was used for the greenhouse experiment and Maize (Zea mays L.) was used as a test crop. The plants were grown for 42 days after which the above ground biomass was harvested for analysis. Without poultry manure addition, the agronomic effectiveness, represented by the relative agronomic effectiveness (RAE) and proportion of P derived from fertilizer (% Pdff) was in the order TSP > PAPR > TPR = control (P0). In the presence of low rate poultry manure addition, the agronomic effectiveness followed the order TSP > PAPR = PR > P0. However, at the high and very high rates of poultry manure addition, no significant differences in agronomic effectiveness were observed among the P sources, suggesting that at this rate of poultry manure addition, PR was equally as effective as TSP. The study showed that direct application of PR co-applied with poultry manure at a 1:1 P ratio will be a viable option for P replenishment. Thus a combination of PR and poultry manure could be a cost-effective means of ensuring sustainable agricultural production in P-deficient, highly weathered tropical soils.