Response of mown pasture to potassium fertilizer in south-eastern South Australia
AP Meissner and AL Clarke
Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry
17(88) 765 - 775
Trials lasting three years were conducted at 27 sites in the south-east of South Australia to examine the responses of mown subterranean clover-ryegrass pastures to repeated annual applications of potassium chloride. At 20 sites, yield of dry matter (DM) was increased by potassium in one or more harvests. Responses were measured in 9 out of 55 winter harvests and 42 out of 86 spring harvests; mean responses to 100 kg ha-1 KCl (-Y100) at responsive sites were 380 and 560 kg DM ha-1 in winter and spring respectively. When potassium dressing increased yield, the proportion of clover in the sward was either maintained or increased. The herbage concentration of potassium was usually increased, and its magnesium concentration sometimes depressed, by potassium application. Although the K:Mg ratio was thereby increased, especially during winter, it rarely reached 15, the value considered necessary to induce grass tetany in cattle. Multivariate regression analysis showed that the exchangeable potassium concentration (Kex) of the top 10 cm of soil, the depth of soil overlying clay or limestone, and the sand content of the topsoil were factors affecting yield response. The best regression equations, however, explained less than half of the response variations. In practice, Kex alone would have usefully diagnosed potassium responsive sites. Responses occurred often when Kexwas less than 0.2 me 100 g-1 and rarely when it was greater. The use of potassium fertilizer is likely to be worthwhile to establish new pasture, to maintain the clover content of old pasture, and to increase the yield and quality of hay, where soils have less than 0.20 me 100 g-1 Kex. Such soils are most commonly sands more than 30 cm deep.
Full text doi:10.1071/EA9770765
© CSIRO 1977