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Potassium cycling and losses in grassland systems: a review

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Cycling of potassium in grassland systems has received relatively little attention in research and practice in recent years. Balanced nutrient systems require consideration of nutrients other than nitrogen (N). Potassium (K) is needed in large amounts and is closely related to N nutrition. In intensive dairy farming, surpluses of K arise from the input of concentrates and fertilizer and are returned to the grassland and may lead to increasing K content in the soil. Organic farming, on the other hand, is characterized by limitations in input of nutrient sources and quantities. Leaching of K from grassland is usually low, but high levels of available soil K, high K input from fertilizer or at urine patches lead to increasing losses. High K inputs have a negative influence on Mg and Ca uptake by plants and can cause accelerated leaching of these cations. High levels of K have been associated with inducing nutrition-related dairy cow health problems such as milk fever (hypocalcaemia) and grass tetany (hypomagnesaemia). This review gives an overview of the cycling of potassium and related cations in grassland systems especially with regard to leaching losses and identifies limitations to knowledge.
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Keywords: grassland; leaching; nutrient balances; potassium; urine patches

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Centre for Animal Production and Technology, University of Göttingen, Vechta, Germany 2: †Institute of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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