Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Comparison of silicate minerals as sources of potassium for plant nutrition in sandy soil

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kirsten BrandtORCiD, Emeritus Professor Neil GrayORCiD, Maggie White, Professor David ManningORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Given the cost of conventional fertilizers and increasing demand from increasing population growth, new sources of potassium (K) for plant nutrition need to be considered. Readily soluble nutrients are rapidly lost from well-drained soils, and so it is appropriate to consider silicate minerals that release K slowly during weathering. In this paper, we compare the availability to plants grown in sandy soils of K from microcline (feldspar), biotite (mica), and nepheline syenite (nepheline + microcline) using leek (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum L.) as a model plant. Pot experiments were carried out under controlled environmental conditions using natural and artificial soil. The performance of the minerals was compared to treatment with KCl and a negative control (no K added). Plant shoot diameter was measured weekly to assess growth rates. After 10 weeks, plant dry mass and soil and plant contents of soluble K were measured to determine offtake; mineralogical changes in biotite-treated soils were assessed. Results for artificial and natural soil differed, reflecting differences in their mineralogy. With no added K, plant growth ceased after two weeks. Growth rates were greatest for KCl, followed by biotite; linear growth continued for five weeks in the natural soil and for the entire ten weeks in the artificial soil. Growth rates with nepheline syenite (natural soil) and microcline (both soils) did not differ significantly from the negative control, but for nepheline syenite leek shoot K content was significantly greater, demonstrating availability of K from this source. X-ray diffraction analysis showed that biotite reacted to form vermiculite.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mohammed SMO, Brandt K, Gray ND, White ML, Manning DAC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Soil Science

Year: 2014

Volume: 65

Issue: 5

Pages: 653-662

Print publication date: 29/09/2014

Online publication date: 12/09/2014

Acceptance date: 17/06/2014

Date deposited: 11/11/2014

ISSN (print): 1351-0754

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2389

Publisher: British Society of Soil Science


DOI: 10.1111/ejss.12172


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric