Increased maize yield using slow release attapulgite-coated fertilizers.

Guan, Y., Song, C., Gan, Y.T., and Li, F.-M. (2014). "Increased maize yield using slow release attapulgite-coated fertilizers.", Agronomy for Sustainable Development , 34(3), pp. 657-665. doi : 10.1007/s13593-013-0193-2  Access to full text

Abstract

Slow-release fertilizers could improve the productivity of field crops and reduce environmental pollution. So far, no slow-release fertilizers are suited for maize cultivation in semiarid areas of China. Therefore, we tested attapulgite-coated fertilizers. Attapulgite-coated fertilizers were prepared by dividing chemical fertilizers into three parts according to the nutrient demand of maize in its three main growth stages and coating each part with a layer of attapulgite. This design is novel and unique, satisfying the demands of maize throughout the whole growing season with slow release of nutrients from the coated layers. A field experiment was conducted in 2010 and 2011, using three fertilizer rates, in kg/ha: 94.22 nitrogen (N) and 22.49 phosphorus (P), 139.09 N and 38.98 P, and 254.23 N and 50.98 P. Five types of fertilizers were compared: 20 and 30 % attapulgite-coated chemical fertilizer, 20 and 30 % attapulgite-mixed chemical fertilizer, and chemical fertilizer only. The results show that the soil mineral N and available P of attapulgite-coated fertilizer has a slow-release behavior that allows a better synchronization between nutrient availability and plant needs. Attapulgite-coated fertilizer increased the grain yield by 15.1–18.4 %. The use of attapulgite-coated fertilizers also improved partial factor productivity of N fertilizer by 10.0–26.7 % and P fertilizer by 11.0–26.7 %, compared with the control fertilized without coated formulates. Given their good performance, the attapulgite-coated fertilizers could be a promising alternative slow-release fertilizer for sustainable agriculture in semiarid areas.

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