The use of cover crops between cotton harvests protects the soil, conserves water, and reduces the danger of erosion. Researchers on the University of Western São Paulo (UNOESTE) and São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil discovered that software of potassium (Ok) to a grass cover crop grown earlier than cotton in sandy soil lowered manufacturing value and resulted in cotton with a better market worth.
“The dynamics of early application of potassium to grass planted as a cover crop before cotton results in more resistant fibers and a smaller proportion of short fibers than when the conventional method of applying the nutrient to the cotton crop is used. In addition to the improvement in quality, the technique reduces production cost for the farmer because of its impact on operational dynamics. The farmer can apply potassium once instead of twice. The technique saves labor and diesel oil, as well as optimizing operational logistics. In the long run, it’s also expected to reduce fertilizer use,” stated Fábio Echer, a professor at UNOESTE and lead writer of an article on the examine revealed in Scientific Reports.
The two-year examine, which was performed on UNOESTE’s experimental farm, in contrast the standard methodology of fertilizing cotton straight with two different strategies, each involving early software of potassium. It additionally evaluated cotton rising with out fertilizer and and not using a cover crop.
The analysis was funded by a grasp’s scholarship awarded by FAPESP to Vinicius José Souza Peres. The São Paulo State Cotton Growers Association (APPA) and Fundação Agrisus additionally collaborated on the challenge.
Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of fiber
In one of the therapies, the researchers utilized potassium to the grass cover crop in two doses (70 kg per hectare every). They in contrast this with software to the cover crop of a single dose of 140 kg per hectare and break up software, with half going to the cover crop and the opposite half to the cotton. The leads to phrases of fiber yield have been equivalent to these of the standard methodology. Yield and high quality have been each decrease with no fertilizer than when the standard methodology or early software was used.
“The study included a calculation of fertilizer use efficiency,” Echer instructed Agência FAPESP. “We found that early application enabled the forage grass used as a cover crop to recover nutrients from the soil, in addition to the function of protecting it. This plant has a deep rhizosphere and its roots are able to find soil nutrients lost via leaching from previous crops, recycling them, and pushing them back to the surface. When the plant dries out, it releases potassium in the first rain to the crops that come next.”
The predominant benefit of early software, nevertheless, is that it will increase the business worth of the cotton produced. The evaluation of fiber high quality and cotton worth discovered that fertilizing the cover crop with potassium led to a smaller proportion of brief fibers, which depreciate the completed product, and likewise enhanced fiber fineness (micronaire), maturity and energy. “These characteristics are important. They represent higher commercial value for the production of finer cotton fabric, which is better quality and fetches a higher price on the market,” Echer stated.
The enchancment in high quality relates to the provision of potassium within the soil and plant water standing. “Cotton fiber is a cell, and like all cells it needs water to expand. By conserving more water in the soil and in the plant, we can also improve fiber size,” he defined.
Potassium performs a key function within the management of plant water loss. It regulates stomata functioning, carbon dioxide fixation, enzyme activation, and nutrient transport, as effectively as aiding stress tolerance. Soil potassium reaches plant roots primarily by diffusion, which accounts for 72%-96% of every plant’s requirement.
“Extreme weather events, high temperatures, and droughts have become more frequent because of global warming, and conservationist soil management techniques such as those suggested by the study can mitigate the adverse effects of all this on production,” Echer stated. “Inconsistent rainfall may limit crop viability, and because only about 8% of Brazil’s cotton plantations are irrigated, the use of a cover crop is especially important. Straw mulch helps reduce soil temperature, which in turn helps conserve water.”
In western São Paulo, the place the experimental farm used within the examine is positioned, the temperature can attain 70°C on cotton plantations and not using a cover crop (and therefore with uncovered soil). The use of a cover crop retains the soil at about 28°C-30°C, conserving soil moisture.
Early software of potassium is extensively used in plantations with clayey soil, Echer added, however the approach had not but been examined on sandy soil with little natural matter, making nutrient retention more durable. “Farmers were reluctant to apply fertilizer early in the case of crops planted in sandy soil,” he stated. “The study proves that applying potassium to the cover crop maintains yield and improves fiber quality even in sandy soil, which is more fragile, stores less water and makes potassium more susceptible to leaching.”
According to the researchers, the strategy analyzed in western São Paulo will be replicated in cotton plantations with sandy soil in Mato Grosso (the main cotton producer in Brazil) and Bahia, as effectively as in different international locations. “The cover crop can be different from the one we used in this study, because the climate may be different, but a precedent has been set for testing new cover species in other parts of the world,” Echer stated.
Fábio Rafael Echer et al, Potassium software to the cover crop prior to cotton planting as a fertilization technique in sandy soils, Scientific Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-77354-x
Application of potassium to grass used as cover crop guarantees higher-quality cotton (2021, February 16)
retrieved 16 February 2021
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