Main content area

Potassium‐fertilizer management in winter oilseed‐rape production in China

Ren, Tao, Lu, Jianwei, Li, Hui, Zou, Juan, Xu, Huali, Liu, Xiaowei, Li, Xiaokun
Zeitschrift für Pflanzenernährung und Bodenkunde 2013 v.176 no.3 pp. 429-440
Brassica napus var. napus, potassium, seed yield, soil, soil fertility, sustainable development, winter, China
Optimal potassium (K) fertilization is beneficial for oilseed‐rape (Brassica napus L.) yield and quality. However, the discrepancy between the high K demand of winter oilseed rape and low soil fertility and insufficient potassium input has limited the sustainable development of oilseed‐rape production. A series of on‐farm experiments in the key winter oilseed‐rape domains of China was conducted from 2004 to 2010 to evaluate K‐fertilizer management for winter oilseed rape. Currently, the average NH₄OAc‐extractable K content in the 0–20 cm soil layer is 89.1 mg kg–¹ indicative of “slight deficiency”. In addition, farmers in China usually fail to use sufficient K fertilizer in oilseed‐rape production, the average mineral‐potassium‐fertilizer input in 2010 being only 35 kg K ha–¹, far lower than the recommended rate of potassium for winter oilseed rape. Adequate potassium fertilization significantly raises seed yield. The average yield‐increase rate for the major production regions due to K‐fertilizer application was 18.5%, and the average K fertilizer–use efficiency 36.1%. Based on the negative correlation between yield response to potassium fertilization and available soil K content, a soil‐K‐test index was established for winter oilseed rape with a threshold value for NH₄OAc‐extractable soil K of 135 mg kg–¹. When available soil K‐content is below this threshold value, more K fertilizer should be applied to achieve high seed yield and to increase soil fertility. The major challenge for K‐fertilizer management in winter oilseed‐rape production in China will be to guide farmers in the different regions in making reasonable use of K fertilizer through soil K‐testing technology in order to maintain both seed yield and soil fertility.