Dynamics of N-P-K demand and uptake in cassava

Adiele, Joy Geraldine; Schut, Antonius G.T.; Ezui, Kodjovi S.; Pypers, Pieter; Giller, Ken E.


Fertilizers are required to improve productivity of cassava and meet the increasing demand for cassava as food, feed, or raw material for processing industries. Our objective was to develop nutrition indices for N, P, and K to provide quantitative insight in the dynamics of nutrient demand and uptake of cassava. On-farm experiments were conducted at six locations in Nigeria from 2016 to 2018, across the major cassava growing agro-ecologies of West Africa. Nitrogen, P, and K were applied at different rates. Uptake of nutrients was measured in leaves, stems, and storage roots at 4, 8, and 12 or 14 months after planting (MAP) and used to construct NPK dilution curves and nutrition indices. About 67, 61, and 52% of total N, P, and K were taken up at 4 MAP, with a maximum uptake rate of 0.21, 0.03, and 0.12 g/m2/d for N, P, and K, respectively. Nutrient concentrations in stems and storage roots declined gradually, in contrast to concentrations in the leaves that fluctuated within narrow ranges. Dilution curves and nutrition indices for N, P, and K were established for the first time in cassava. Dilution curves of N, P, and K in the crop for the highest NPK application treatment were described as Nc = 82DM−0.61, Pc = 7.4DM−0.54, and Kc = 43DM−0.54, when total biomass was between 5 and 57 t/ha dry matter (DM). The nutrition indices were linearly related to relative crop biomass. Insight into the nutrient uptake and dilution patterns during the growth cycle can help to understand the temporal nutrient demands of cassava and identify sustainable management practices. Initial ample supply of N and P and moderate K, with extra K top-dress during the second growth phase, will benefit cassava growth and yield. Furthermore, such information provides a basis to develop a dynamic model to simulate nutrient-limited growth of cassava.