Relative effectiveness of organic and inorganic nutrient sources in improving yield, seed quality and nutrient uptake of canola.

Malhi, S.S., Vera, C.L., and Brandt, S.A. (2013). "Relative effectiveness of organic and inorganic nutrient sources in improving yield, seed quality and nutrient uptake of canola.", Agricultural Sciences, 4(12A), pp. 1-18. doi : 10.4236/as.2013.412A001  Access to full text

Abstract

The proper use of organic and inorganic nutrient sources is important to sustain high levels of crop production, while maintaining or enhancing soil and environmental quality. A 4-year (2009 to 2012) field experiment was established in spring 2009 on a Gray Luvisol (Typic Haplocryalf) loam soil at Star City, Saskatchewan, Canada, to determine the effectiveness of organic/biological (compost, wood ash [fine and granular], alfalfa pellets, distiller grain, thin stillage, glycerol, fish food additive, Penicillium bilaiae), inorganic/mineral (granular-gypsum, rapid release elemental S [RRES], rock phosphate [granular and fine]) and chemical/synthetic (granular-ammonium nitrate, triple super phosphate and potassium sulphate) nutrient sources (amendments/chemicals) in improving seed yield, straw yield, seed quality and nutrient uptake (N, P, K and S) in seed + straw of canola. Combined application of N, P and S chemical fertilizers (NPS) produced considerably greater seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake of canola compared to the unamended control in all four years. In treatments receiving only organic amendments, thin stillage produced the greatest seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake in all years, and it was similar to the NPS balanced fertilizer treatment, while fish food additive and distiller grain dry of wheat in 2009, 2011 and 2012, distiller grain dry of corn in 2009 and 2012, and compost and alfalfa pellets in 2011 and 2012 produced significantly greater seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake, when compared to the control. In treatments where chemical fertilizers were also applied, in addition to organic amendments, application of N fertilizer increased seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake substantially when combined with wood ash fine in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, wood ash granular in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and glycerol in 2009 and 2012 (moderate increase in 2012). In the chemical fertilizer treatments, there was a reduction in seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake of canola when only N fertilizer was applied compared to the control (significant in 2010 and 2011). Application of P along with N (NP) increased seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake of canola compared to N alone treatment, but was less than the NPS treatment in all years. Application of S along with N (NS) increased seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake of canola further compared to the NP treatment, but it was still lower than the NPS treatment in 2010 and 2011. In treatments receiving inorganic/mineral amendments in addition to chemical fertilizers, application of N + P fertilizers substantially increased seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake in treatments receiving gypsum and RRES in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. This suggests the potential of gypsum and RRES in preventing S deficiency in organic crops when grown on S-deficient soils, provided other nutrients are not limiting in the soil for crop growth. Seed yield, straw yield and nutrient uptake with application of N and S fertilizers in combination with rock phosphate and/or Penicillium bilaiae were similar to N + S treatment in most cases, except in 2011 when application of finely-ground or powder rock phosphate in a combination with N + S produced significantly greater yield and nutrient uptake than N + S with granular rock phosphate. This suggests little contribution of rock phosphate and/or Penicillium bilaiaein improving yield and nutrient uptake of canola, and improves the performance of fine rock phosphate only evident in the third growing season in 2011, after three consecutive applications, but not in 2012. In conclusion, some organic amendments showed potential for improvement in organic crop production, and in some other cases highest yield and nutrient uptake were produced

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