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Potassium uptake and storage in oil palm organs : the role of chlorine and the influence of soil characteristics in the Magdalena valley, Colombia

Dubos B., Alarcón W.H., López J.E., Ollivier J.. 2011. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 89 (2) : p. 219-227.

Potassium is the main nutrient in oil palm nutrition. On oil palm estates, potassium fertilization is usually adjusted based on leaflet K content. However, in the Magdalena river valley in Colombia where the soils are deficient in Cl, KCl has always caused a drop in leaflet K content, sometimes to deficiency levels, yet yields remain high. To elucidate this paradox, we conducted a multi-annual trial on 11-year-old oil palms by comparing unfertilized plots and plots receiving KCl or NaCl. We analysed the physico-chemical characteristics of the soils and the K, Ca, Mg, Na, and Cl contents of different organs: leaflets, rachises, petioles, stems, roots, and fresh fruit bunches. Our results showed that Cl stimulated the uptake of K, Ca, and Mg cations in aerial parts and that K was primarily stored in the stem (72% of the K in aerial vegetative organs). Our results also showed that the soils were rich in K easily accessible to the crop, a fact that conventional extraction of exchangeable cations did not reveal, and that the richness was probably of volcanic origin. Lastly, analysis of rachis K content was seen to be a good potential indicator of K taken up by the plant, and could thus replace leaflets for monitoring potassium fertilization in oil palm plantations. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : agroécosystème; elaeis guineensis; colombie

Thématique : Chimie et physique du sol; Physiologie végétale : nutrition

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