Nutrient Release, Plant Nutrition, and Potassium Leaching from Polymer-Coated Fertilizer
The increase in food consumption and limitations in food production areas requires improved fertilizer efficiency. Slow- or controlled-release fertilizers are an alternative for synchronizing nutrient availability with the plant demands, reducing losses to the environment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of polymer-coated KCl compared with conventional KCl. The products were incubated in soil under controlled conditions to evaluate the time required for nutrient release. A greenhouse experiment was performed with corn plants in pots with loamy sand- or clay-textured soil types to evaluate plant nutrition and losses due to leaching. The K application rates were 0, 18, 36, and 54 mg dm-3. The pots were irrigated, and the percolated liquid was collected. The plants were harvested 30 days after sowing to quantify dry matter (DM) and its K content. In the incubation study, the K release from the coated fertilizer was found to be 42 % over 154 days. The data were fit to a linear function from which a period of 315 days was estimated as required for the release of 75 % of the nutrient. Meanwhile, conventional KCl releases 85 % of the K nutrient in the first 48h. In the cultivation of plants in pots, the coating reduced K losses due to leaching in the loamy sand soil; however, only the application rate of 54 mg dm-3 promoted DM production equivalent to conventional KCl. It is possible that the need for K in the early stages of corn development was not met by a coated KCl.