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A framework for determining the efficient combination of organic materials and mineral fertilizer applied in maize cropping

Pinitpaitoon, S., Suwanarit, A. and Bell, R.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-7756-3755 (2011) A framework for determining the efficient combination of organic materials and mineral fertilizer applied in maize cropping. Field Crops Research, 124 (3). pp. 302-315.

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Application of organic manures and composts in crop production has been strongly encouraged in many places but often without due consideration to their quality and price. Since organic amendments can vary greatly in composition and mineralization rate, a framework is needed to make rational choices on their use as replacements of inorganic fertilizer, especially when considering poor quality organic materials. A field experiment was carried out with maize grown annually for 5 years on a Rhodic Kandiustox in Thailand to test response to mineral fertilizer (at 0-0 to 125-55kg N-P ha-1yr-1), compost (0.59% N, 0.31% P and 0.55% K at 0-7500kgha-1yr-1) and stubble removal. The DSSAT model was calibrated to predict yields using the first year's trial data and then used to predict treatment yields for the following 4 years. The Seasonal Analysis module of DSSAT using Dominance Analysis showed that mineral fertilizer (125-55kgN-Pha-1yr-1) with stubble return gave the highest net profit whereas the highest rate of compost without mineral fertilizer gave the biggest loss. The yield response was attributed primarily to N supply rather than P. Effects of compost, mineral fertilizer, stubble management, and their interactions on yield and profit were not related to bulk density or soil available water capacity even though soil organic matter (SOM) levels increased. With stubble return, the highest rate of mineral fertilizer increased SOM whereas with compost application or stubble removal it did not. The DSSAT simulation of yield indicated that the low quality compost would only be as profitable as mineral fertilizer if the N concentrations are 3-4 times higher than the present compost (1.8-2.4% N) or if the compost price is greatly reduced. The DSSAT yield simulation and Seasonal Analysis provided a framework whereby the suitability of compost as a N fertilizer replacement for maize could be determined based on its composition, rate of application and price. Further validation of this approach is needed where the organic amendments have significant effects on soil physical properties and where other nutrients besides N are a significant factor in the crop yield response.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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