Cotton in Middle Asia looks for Potash

Versatile, capable K

Contrasts in efficiency

Cotton in Middle Asia looks for Potash

Potash and oilseeds, a story for Pakistan?

Middle Asia, i.e. countries located in the southern part of the FSU hosts about 8% of the global cotton area and produces 10% of the total harvest. Mean yields of 2.09 t/ha seed cotton still rank third in the global scale after the WANA Region (2.54 t/ha) and East Asia (2.34 t/ha, mean of 1994-96). But yields have deteriorated considerably, declining steadily from as high as almost 3 t/ha during the eighties.

Potassium is a key nutrient also in cotton. Yield and quality depend greatly upon K. A good cotton crop absorbs up to 390 kg/ha K; uptake rates of K of almost 5 kg/ha per day are known. Without potash, cotton yield declines to as low as 45% of a well fed plant.

Post-reform potash use in Middle Asia also went down rather drastically, in parallel to cotton yields. Keeping in mind what was said Cotton in Middle Asia looks for Potashearlier on the importance of potash in cotton production, the interrelation between both is clear. To inform agriculturists, and to alert decision-makers, earlier this year IPI conducted a seminar in Uzbekistan, the main cotton producer in Middle Asia, with the purpose of demonstrating the gains that can be achieved by balanced use of potash in the cultivation of cotton. The message was clear: unbalanced nutrition without potash means soil K mining and low K availability in soils especially under climatic and/or soil borne stress situations and hence low yield and poor quality. And concerning soil borne stress, it is well documented that irrigated soils are prone to excessive build up of salts, these soils require 'extra' potash if the heavy demands of a cotton crop are to be met.

Seminars are one of the most demonstrably successful ways of promoting potash, with demand rising as a direct consequence. And it seems that pictures serve as well as words, when words fail.