Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 137–149 | Cite as

Potassium uptake and requirement in organic grassland farming

Research Article


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.


Available potassium Organic farming Potassium application Soil analysis Red clover Timothy 



Financial support for this study was provided by The Research Council of Norway. Thanks to the Norwegian Extension Service and research stations in Bioforsk for performing the field experiments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Soil and Environment DivisionNorwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental ResearchAasNorway
  2. 2.Organic Food and Farming DivisionNorwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental ResearchTingvollNorway

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