IPI International Potash Institute
IPI International Potash Institute

Scientific abstracts

Phosphorus and Potassium Effects on Taproot C and N Reserve Pools and Long-Term Persistence of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)
Berg, W.K., S. Lissbrant, S.M. Cunningham, S.M. Brouder, and J.J. Volenec
Published in:
Plant Science 272:301-308 (2018), English


Improved P and K nutrition can enhance yield and persistence of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) grown on low fertility soils, but it is unknown if the improved agronomic performance is associated with greater taproot N and C reserves. Our objective was to use cluster analysis to determine how alfalfa plant persistence is altered by P and K fertilization, and determine if changes in specific taproot C and/or N reserves were associated with alfalfa plant death. Taproots were dug and plants counted in May and December of each year and taproots analyzed for P, K, starch, sugar, amino-N, and soluble protein. K-means clustering was used to create six clusters that were subsequently compared using two-sample t-tests. Low K in herbage and taproots was associated with low yield and poor persistence of the Low and Very Low clusters and taproots of these plants generally had low starch, protein, and amino-N concentrations. Plants died primarily between May and December. Plant persistence of the low yielding, P-deficient Medium cluster was high and associated with high starch concentrations. Low amino-N concentrations in taproots may provide an early indication of potential plant death because these were evident in poor-persisting Low and Very Low clusters early in the study.

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