A review of potassium-rich crop residues used as organic matter amendments in tree crop agroecosystems

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2020: $349,807.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G126-21-W7899
Grant Recipient: University of California Davis
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Sat Darshan Khalsa
University of California Davis
Dr. Patrick Brown
University of California Davis
Dr. Amelie Gaudin
University of California, Davis
Ecosystem-based approaches to nutrient management are needed to satisfy crop nutrient requirements while minimizing environmental impacts of fertilizer use. Applying crop residues as soil amendments can provide essential crop nutrient inputs from organic sources while improving nutrient retention, soil health, water conservation, and crop performance. Tree crop hulls, husks, and shells have been found to contain high concentrations of potassium across species including almond, cacao, coffee, pecan, and hazelnut. The objective of this review is to characterize organic sources of potassium focusing on lignocellulosic pericarps and discuss reported effects of surface application on potassium cycling, water dynamics, soil functionality, and crop yield. Research indicates potassium ions solubilize readily from plant material into soil solution due to potassium’s high mobility as a predominately unbound monatomic cation in plant tissues. Studies evaluating tree crop nutshells, field crop residues, and forest ecosystem litter layers indicate this process of potassium release is driven primarily by water and is not strongly limited by decomposition. Research suggests orchard floor management practices can be tailored to maximize the soil and plant benefits provided by this practice. Contextual factors influencing practice adoption and areas for future study are discussed.
Peer-reviewed Journal Article
Ellie Andrews, UC Davis
Sire Kassama, UC Davis
Evie Smith, UC Davis
Patrick Brown, UC Davis
Sat Darshan Khalsa, UC Davis
Target audiences:
Educators; Researchers
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.