Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 107, Issue 2, pp 197–213 | Cite as

Maximizing maize quality, productivity and profitability through a combined use of compost and nitrogen fertilizer in a semi-arid environment in Pakistan

  • Shahid Iqbal
  • Christian Thierfelder
  • Haroon Zaman Khan
  • Hafiz Muhammad Rashad Javeed
  • Muhammad Arif
  • Muhammad Shehzad
Original Article


In Pakistan, low crop yields are a common problem of sandy-loam arid and semi-arid agroecosystems. Poor nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and widespread soil nitrogen (N) deficiency resulting from higher N losses are the main reasons for low yields. Compost may offer a nutrient source in this context as it is relatively stable, has a high NUE and crop N uptake, and may contribute to lower N losses in this region. This research conducted during 2011 and 2012, focused on application of N from poultry manure compost (PMC) and pressmud compost (PrMC) with urea in different ratios (0:0, 100:0, 75:25, 50:50, 25:75, 0:100) for sustainable maize production under the semi-arid conditions of Faisalabad. Overall, combined use of PMC and PrMC with urea in the 2 years increased the grain yield relative to the application of PMC and PrMC on their own. The greatest plant N uptake during the two years from PMC and urea at 25:75 was equivalent to mineral N management (0:100), and it resulted in maximum total grain yield (218.6%) and grain protein (19.8%). This resulted in the lowest N loss from the soil, and the largest NUE (19.1 kg kg−1). Economically, this treatment also provided the greatest net income (932 US$ ha−1), and a benefit cost ratio (2.1). Based on these results, PMC and urea at 25:75 was considered highly beneficial in increasing maize yield while reducing the loss of less-stable N from the soil, increasing NUE and N uptake in inherently poor soils. However, further evaluation is needed to decide whether this N nutrition strategy can be adopted on a wider scale.


Compost Nitrogen Income Nitrogen use efficiency Pakistan 



The authors are thankful to the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan for providing funds under the Grant: Indigenous 5000 Ph.D. Fellowship (Pin No. 117-6089-AV7-073), which supported this study. We are also grateful to the CGIAR Research Program on Maize, which provided time for Dr. Christian Thierfelder to contribute to the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shahid Iqbal
    • 1
  • Christian Thierfelder
    • 2
  • Haroon Zaman Khan
    • 3
  • Hafiz Muhammad Rashad Javeed
    • 4
  • Muhammad Arif
    • 1
  • Muhammad Shehzad
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyThe University of AgriculturePeshawarPakistan
  2. 2.CIMMYT–Southern Africa Regional OfficeHarareZimbabwe
  3. 3.Department of AgronomyUniversity of AgricultureFaisalabadPakistan
  4. 4.Department of Environmental SciencesCOMSATS Institute of Information TechnologyVehariPakistan
  5. 5.Department of AgronomyThe University of PoonchRawalakotPakistan

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