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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Quantifying uptake rate of potassium from soil in a long-term grass rotation experiment

Öborn Ingrid, Edwards Anthony C., Hillier Steven


Soil-plant potassium (K) dynamics were studied using a long-term field experiment in order to evaluate the plant performance and K delivering capacity of the soil parent material. Rye grass (Lolium perenne L.) based rotations on a loamy sand derived from granitic bedrock were studied over 30 years with two K-fertilisation regimes, nil (K0) and 65 kg K ha−1 yr−1. Mineralogical and chemical methods were combined to identify and quantify soil K resources including the partitioning of K between minerals. Two or three cuts were taken annually and herbage yield and composition together with exchangeable soil K were analysed. Herbage yield declined with time and significantly reduced when the K concentrations approached 1%. The grass K concentration also declined over time and stabilized at around 0.5–0.7% (dw) in K0 in all cuts. Input-output mass balances showed an accumulated net K off-take (deficit) of 1,100 kg ha−1, i.e. 35 kg ha−1 yr−1. With an exchangeable K pool of 100 kg ha−1 (in the rooting zone 0–40 cm) this indicated a substantial release of K from mineral sources, most probably biotite and hydrobiotite. Assuming a similar net off-take was continued then this particular mineralogical K source would be depleted within two centuries. The study illustrates the strength of combining long-term field experimental data with state of the art quantitative mineralogical methods in order to assess site-specific resources which can form a basis to evaluate the sustainability of different management practices

Published in

Plant and Soil
2010, Volume: 335, number: 335, pages: 3-19
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)