Field-specific potassium and phosphorus balances and fertilizer requirements for irrigated rice-based cropping systems


Fertilizer K and P requirements for rice (Oryza sativa L.) can be determined with site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) using estimated target yield, nutrient balances, and yield gains from added nutrient. We used the QUEFTS (QUantitative Evaluation of the Fertility of Tropical Soils) model with >8000 plot-level observations to estimate the relationship between grain yield and nutrient accumulation in above-ground dry matter of irrigated rice with harvest index ≥ 0.4. Predicted reciprocal internal efficiencies (RIEs) at 60–70% of yield potential corresponded to plant accumulation of 14.6 kg N, 2.7 kg P, and 15.9 kg K per tonne of grain yield. These RIEs enable determination of plant requirements for K and P and net output of K and P in harvested grain and removed crop residues at a target yield. Yield gains for nutrient applied to irrigated rice averaged 12% for K and 9% for P for 525 to 531 observations. For fields without certain yield gain, fertilizer K and P requirements can be determined by a partial maintenance approach (i.e., fertilizer input < output in nutrient balance), which considers nutrient supply mediated through soil processes and balances trade-offs between financial loss with full maintenance rates and risk of excessive nutrient depletion without nutrient application. When yield gains to an added nutrient are certain, partial maintenance plus yield gain can be used to determine fertilizer requirements. The SSNM-based approach and algorithms enable rapid development of field-specific K and P management.

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crop residue retained


fertilizer K


fraction of full maintenance


fertilizer P


grain yield


harvest index


internal efficiency


Indo-Gangetic Plains


Quantitative Evaluation of the Fertility of Tropical Soils


recovery efficiency


reciprocal internal efficiency


Reversing Trends in Declining Productivity


site-specific nutrient management


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The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), and the International Potash Institute (IPI) supported the research from which most data in this paper were obtained and through which the principles of SSNM that make this paper possible were developed.

We thank Ms. Nadialin Borje for the compilation of the data set and the QUEFTS analysis. We thank the following institutions for collaboration, which contributed data used in this paper: Bangladesh Rice Research Institute; Zhejiang University, China; Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India; Indonesian Center for Rice Research; Philippine Rice Research Institute; West Visayas State University, Philippines; Bohol Agricultural Promotion Center, Philippines; Rice Department, Thailand; Cuu Long Rice Research Institute, Vietnam; Soil and Fertilizer Research Institute, Vietnam. Floodwater data from the RTDP project were obtained and compiled by Dr. Arlene Adviento-Borbe.

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Correspondence to Roland J. Buresh.

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Buresh, R.J., Pampolino, M.F. & Witt, C. Field-specific potassium and phosphorus balances and fertilizer requirements for irrigated rice-based cropping systems. Plant Soil 335, 35–64 (2010).

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  • Field-specific nutrient management
  • Nutrient balance
  • SSNM
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Maize