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Agronomy 2018, 8(4), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8040049

Maize (Zea mays L.) Response to Secondary and Micronutrients for Profitable N, P and K Fertilizer Use in Poorly Responsive Soils

1
Division of Soil and Water Management, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark, Arenberg 20 box 2459, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
2
Department of Soil Science, University of Eldoret, box 30100-1125 Eldoret, Kenya
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 January 2018 / Revised: 2 April 2018 / Accepted: 9 April 2018 / Published: 15 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fertilizer Application on Crop Yield)
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Abstract

Deficiencies of secondary and micronutrients (SMNs) are major causes of low maize yields in poorly responsive soils. This phenomenon minimizes the agronomic efficiency of N, P and K fertilizers and consequently result in a dwindling economic benefit associated with their use. Therefore, 18 on-farm trials were conducted in western Kenya during two cropping seasons to assess maize response to three NPK amendments; (i) N, P, K, Ca, Zn and Cu (inorganic and organic); (ii) N, P, K, Ca, Zn and Cu (inorganic) and (iii) N, P K, Zn and Cu (inorganic) and evaluate the profitability of their use compared to additions of only N, P and K fertilizers. In this set of experiments, maize response to any amendment refers to a yield increase of ≥2 t ha−1 above control and could be categorized in three clusters. Cluster 1, comprising of nine sites, maize responded to all amendments. Cluster 2, holding six sites, maize responded only to one amendment, N, P, K, Ca, Zn and Cu (inorganic). In this cluster, (2), emerging S, Mg and Cu deficiencies may still limit maize production. Cluster 3; consisting of three sites, maize responded poorly to all amendments due to relatively high soil fertility (≥17 mg P kg−1). Profitability of using NPK amendments is limited to Cluster 1 and 2 and the largest Value Cost Ratio (VCR) of 3.1 is attainable only when soil available P is below 4.72 mg kg−1. These variable responses indicate the need for developing site-specific fertilizer recommendations for improved maize production and profitability of fertilizer use in poorly responsive soils. View Full-Text
Keywords: agronomic response; calcium; Copper; NPK amendments; Value Cost Ratio; Zinc agronomic response; calcium; Copper; NPK amendments; Value Cost Ratio; Zinc
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Njoroge, R.; Otinga, A.N.; Okalebo, J.R.; Pepela, M.; Merckx, R. Maize (Zea mays L.) Response to Secondary and Micronutrients for Profitable N, P and K Fertilizer Use in Poorly Responsive Soils. Agronomy 2018, 8, 49.

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