Effects of applied micronutrients and liming on grain yield and plant composition on three ferralsols on North-Western Zambia
Review of the literature suggested possible deficiencies of micronutrients in soils of North Western Zambia. Soil analysis, pot and field experiments were employed to investigate possible deficiencies. The pot experiments investigated how raising soil pH through liming influenced extractable micronutrients and their uptake by plants. Plant Mo and Ca were positively correlated with soil pH, while Mn and Zn were inversely correlated, aggravating the zinc inadequacy on all soils and that for Mn on arenosols. Effects of liming on plant uptakes of micronutrients generally followed the same trends as those on soil extraction. Incubating the soil under grass house conditions was found to influence amounts of extractable micronutrients, increasing most times above their levels before the soil was incubated. Field experiments generally showed that applying micronutrients were beneficial to crop yield only at some sites. Grain yield variables responded variously and were most significantly correlated with overall grain yield. Soil analysis usefully predicted deficiencies of Zn for both maize and soybean. However, predictions for B and Mo were ideal for soybean than maize. Cu also seemed to have been wrongly predicted for soybean. However, plant nutrient concentration was better at predicting nutrient status in relation to grain yield, but the lower limits of the suggested optimal concentration ranges may need to be worked out again. Soybean was found to have more micronutrient latent deficiencies at majority of the sites than maize. One of the characteristics of applied micronutrients was their beneficial residual effects of crop yield. The residual benefit was also noticed on maize when the fertilisers were directly applied to soybeans a season before, suggesting a possibility of crop rotation, thus spreading the costs. Results would suggest changing the current fertiliser recommendations in the region.