, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 137-149

Potassium uptake and requirement in organic grassland farming

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Abstract

Use of mineral fertilizers is restricted in organic farming. The aim of the present paper was therefore to study whether potassium (K) limits yields in Norwegian organic grasslands. The K status in soil and herbage on 26 organic farms was investigated, and the response to K application in six fertilization experiments was explored. Further, the relationship between soil K analyses and K release from soil was examined. K application to grassland on the investigated farms was generally low, giving negative field K balances on 23 of the farms. The soils were classified as low or intermediate in readily available K (KAL) on 23 of the farms. The mean K concentration for herbage samples from the first cut on these farms was 18.0 g K kg−1 dry matter. In fertilization experiments, K application increased the K concentration in herbage. However, there was no significant effect on yield, even when K concentration in herbage on plots without K application was low. The lack of significant yield response to K application can be explained by low amounts of crop-available nitrogen (N). There was a tendency for increased plant uptake from reserve K with increasing values of acid soluble K (K–HNO3) in soil. Separate K analyses of timothy (Phleum pratense) and red clover (Trifolium pratense) revealed that red clover showed better competitiveness for K than timothy in leys where N supply was limited.