IPI International Potash Institute
IPI International Potash Institute

Research Findings: e-ifc No. 39, December 2014

Soybean crop in Brazil - grown to new horizons. Alvorada farm, Brazil. Photo by T. Wiendl.

Influence of Brachiaria (Urochloa brizantha) as a Winter Cover Crop on Potassium Use Efficiency and Soybean Yield under No-Till in the Brazilian Cerrado

Benites, V.M.(1), J.O. Caetano(2), W.C. Ferreira Filho(3), C.C.E. Menezes(3), J.C. Polidoro(1), R.P. Oliveira(1), and T. Wiendl(4)
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(1)Embrapa Solos, R. Jardim Botânico 1024, Rio de Janeiro 22460-000, Brazil, V. Benites; J. Polidoro; R. Oliveira
(2)Department of Agronomy, Goias Federal University, c.p. 131, Goiânia GO 74001-970, Brazil, J. Caetano
(3)Department of Agronomy, Rio Verde University, c.p. 104, Rio Verde GO 75901-970, Brazil, W.C. Ferreira Filho; C. Menezes
(4)IPI Coordinator Latin America, International Potash Institute (IPI), Switzerland, ipi@ipipotash.org
Corresponding author: V. Benites


Brazil is the world’s third largest consumer of potash (fertilizers, with an annual consumption of more than 4.7 million metric tons of K2O (ANDA, 2013), of which less than 10% is produced within the country. Most of this potash fertilizer is applied to grain production, mainly soybean and maize, but the large amounts of potassium (K) exported in grain crops make its replacement essential in order to retain high soil productivity levels, in particular for soybean. Grain production in Brazil is concentrated in areas where indigenous K soil reserves are low, and significant reductions in yield losses may be observed after three or four successive harvests if K replacement is inadequate. There is a need, therefore, to identify management strategies to increase K use efficiency. Brachiaria (Urochloa brizantha) is considered to be highly efficient in K recycling (Naumov et al., 2011). In this short article we report the findings of a field experiment showing the beneficial effects of Brachiaria, used as a winter cover crop, on soybean yield and K use efficiency in a highly weathered red tropical soil.





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