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Growth and Yield Response of Maize (Zea mays L.) to a Wide Range of Nutrients on Ferralsols of Western Kenya

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Declining soil fertility is one of the main causes of low yields of maize. Farmers apply low rates of unbalanced nutrients leading to further nutrient mining. A randomized complete block nutrient omission trial with six replications was therefore set to determine maize response to the application of a wide range of nutrients from inorganic fertilizers on Ferralsols. The treatments were NK, NP, PK, NPK, and NPK + CaMgZnBS. The results showed that application of PK fertilizer resulted in low crop growth rate (CGR), and relative growth rate (RGR), and biomass compared to other treatments. Application of a wider range of nutrients (NPK + CaMgZnBS treatment) improved maize growth and yield compared to other treatments. In terms of grain response, Urea application recorded the highest yield (1800 kg/ha) followed by Triple Superphosphate (1300 kg/ha) then Muriate of potash (1100 kg/ha) and least by a combined application of secondary nutrients and micronutrients (ZnBMgCaS = 400 kg/ha). Highest agronomic efficiency of 32.5 kg grain /kg P applied was recorded due to P followed by K (27.5 kg grain /kg K) and least by N (15 kg grain /kg N). Based on the combined effect, application of N-P-K based fertilizers could give better yields. Use of micronutrients should be assessed further for conclusive recommendations.
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  • Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
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