Potassium (K) response curves were generated for some Malawi soils using four different rates of potassium fertilizer, with grass being used to estimate plant availability. The study was conducted to find the point of maximum response for potassium. The soils were characterized, limed and fertilized with equal amounts of nitrogen. Potassium was applied at four rates: 0.0, 0.1, 0.2 and 0.4 me K/100 cm3 soil. The K treated soils were put in pots and cropped with grass. The grass was harvested six weeks after planting, dried and weighed. In general, addition of potassium resulted in increased growth of grass in all soils, with some soils showing better response than others. For montmorillonitic soils and soils with mixed mineralogy response was linear up to the highest rate of 0.4 me K/100 cm3. Apparently the 0.4 me K/100 cm3 soil was not enough to give maximum yield for these potassium depleted soils. For the kaolinitic soils 0.4 me K/100 cm3 soil was beyond point of maximum response. The variation of response to added potassium in the different soils calls for soil specific fertilizer additions. Smallholder farmers should move from blanket (crop specific) fertilizer recommendations currently being used to crop and soil specific fertilizer recommendations. Basal fertilizer dressings (starter packs) should always contain potassium. Correlation and calibration studies should be conducted to establish a potassium low optimum level for Malawi soils.
International Letters of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy (Volume 13)
D. D. Lakudzala "Potassium Response in some Malawi Soils", International Letters of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Vol. 13, pp. 175-181, 2013