Questioning Our Approach to Potassium in Soils

The Potassium Paradox

According to three University of Illinois scientists, potash, or potassium chloride (KCL), widely used as a fertilizer in the Corn Belt, is a highly problematic fertilizer. Three University of Illinois scientists recently published “The potassium paradox: Implications for soil fertility, crop production and human health” in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. The authors question both the current mode of evaluating crop available potassium in soils, and in turn call into question current management practices, arguing that fertilizing with potash does not pay, and in fact may be detrimental. In the authors’ words, the major takeaway from their research: “(1) the usual approach to soil K testing is of no value for predicting fertilizer requirement or monitoring changes in K fertility, and (2) KCL fertilization will seldom lead to economic yield response or improve crop quality.” The full article may be accessed here at no cost.

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