Soil factors affecting the availability of potassium to plants for Western Australian soils: a glasshouse study

Y. Pal, Robert Gilkes, M.T.F. Wong

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    25 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    A glasshouse experiment was conducted with 41 surface and 8 subsurface soils to measure their potassium (K) supply capacities and K depletion of soils by ryegrass growth for 260 days and harvesting at 40-day intervals. Dry matter yield ranged from 0.22 g to 25.4 g/kg soil, cumulative K uptake ranged from 0.006 to 1.49 cmol/kg soil, and values of K concentration (%) in the first cut herbage ranged from 0.40% to 5.97%. Some of the light-textured soils were so impoverished in K that symptoms of K deficiency appeared during the first growth period. Water-soluble K + exchangeable K accounted for 43-100% of cumulative K uptake by the ryegrass. Multiple regression analysis indicated that 68% of the variation in dry matter yield and 90% of the variation in K uptake may be predicted by the exchangeable K content of these soils. The 6 harvests of ryegrass extracted only 0.21-12.07% of total K from these soils, which was not sufficient to cause discernible mineralogical changes in most soils. For some soils vermiculite was formed at the expense of illite/mica by K release to plants. For soils containing vermiculite but no other K-bearing clay minerals, vermiculite peaks broadened on K depletion by plants. Major proportions of total K in these soils are present in silicate minerals, yet only minor amounts are released to plants by very slow weathering processes. For soils that do not contain any K bearing clay minerals, very minor amounts of feldspar may have dissolved to release K.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)611-625
    JournalAustralian Journal of Soil Research
    Volume39
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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