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Potassium dynamics in three alluvial soils differing in clay contents

Abdul Wakeel1,2*
, Mehreen Gul1 and Muhammad Sanaullah1.

Despite the presence of a huge amount of potassium (K+) in the soil, most of the soils are deficient in plantavailable K+. A large amount of the K+ is fixed by clay minerals present in such soils and cannot be taken up byplants to achieve optimum plant growth. In such type of soils, large amount of K+ fertilizers are required foroptimum plant growth, as plants do not respond enough to a normally recommended K+ fertilization.Vermiculite clay minerals can fix an enormous amount of applied K+, which becomes slowly available to theplants. The K+ dynamics in such soils are valuable to recommend K+ fertilizer requirements for sustainablenutrient management. We analyzed the K+ dynamics of three alluvial soils, i.e Kleinlinden, Giessen and Trebur,collected from Germany and found that the soils with vermiculite and smectite clay minerals have more K+-fixing ability than soils dominated by illite clay minerals. However, as the K+ concentration decreased in thesoil solution, smectite-dominant soils may easily release fixed K+ due to lower particle-charge, whereasvermiculite and illite dominant soils may not release fixed K+ easily. Moreover, ammonium exchangeable K+,non-exchangeable K+, total K+ and K+-fixing capacity of these soils are directly proportional to the soil claycontents. While recommending K+ fertilizers clay contents and the type of clay minerals is not considered andrecommended K+ fertilizers sometimes do not response plant growth enhancement. Therefore potassiumfertilizer should be recommended by taking into consideration the type and amount of clay minerals present inthe soil.

Key words: Alluvial soils, Clay, Electro-ultra-filtration, K+
-dynamics, K+
-fixing soils

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