Why potassium fertiliser is important in plantain farming
Plantain farming can be very lucrative in Nigeria. Most if not all Nigerians eat plantain, plantain is a delicacy for many. Plantain contains a lot of potassium. Potassium is a nutrient your plantain crop needs; unfortunately, most plantain farmers forsake this nutrient.
Types of potassium fertiliser that can be used for plantain farming
Potassium Nitrate known as KNO3 is one of the best forms of potassium fertilizers that can be used in plantain farming. It combines nitrogen in nitrate form and potassium.
This fertiliser increases the size of plantain fruits, improves the colour of the plantain fruits and helps during the flowering stage.
It helps to strengthen the cell wall and also helps for disease prevention.
Potassium sulphate is also called sulfate of potash (SOP). It is a type of fertiliser with high potassium content. Like potassium nitrate, it can be used during the floweri ng and fruiting stage during plantain farming.
It typically has 51% of potassium and 18% of sulfur.
Muriate of potash
Muriate of potash is also called potassium chloride. This type of fertiliser also has a very high content of potassium. However, the potassium comes with chloride. The over application of muriate of potassium can increase the salt content of your plantain crop and soil. This can have negative consequences.
Muraite of potash can also harm the microbial life of your soil. Muriate of potash has 60-62% of potassium.
Potassium humate is the potassium salt of humic acid. It is extracted from leonardite. Potassium humate is mainly used as a soil conditioner. It can also be applied to the leaves of crops.
Potassium humate is purely organic and can be used by plantain farmers who practise organic farming. Potassium humate can improve the efficiency of fertilizers and can also positively impact the microbial life of the soil.
King Humus is a typical example of potassium humate.
Potassium silicate is a type of potassium and silicate fertiliser that improves the cell strength of a plant. It also increases the resistance and tolerance of plants to diseases.
Potassium Silicate can be very helpful to your plantain crop.
How to apply potassium fertiliser to your plantain crop
Apply the fertiliser on the soil
Potassium fertilizers can be applied as side dressing or through the broadcast method on the soil. However, side dressing is more efficient than broadcast method in plantain cultivation.
Potassium fertiliser can be mixed with water and sprayed to the leaves and stems of the plantain plants. Plants make use of fertilisers quicker when applied on the leaves. However, the leaves can get scorched easily if the fertiliser is over applied.
Through drip irrigation
Potassium fertilizers can be applied through drip irrigation to plantain plants. This process is called fertigation. It is the most efficient form of fertiliser application in plantain cultivation. A venture injector or dosing pump can be used for the fertigation.
The role of potassium in plantain farming
Flowering and fruiting
Potassium helps during the process of flowering and fruiting. During fruiting, the plantain plants need more potassium than any other nutrients. Plantain plants need 2-3 times more potassium than nitrogen during fruiting. A lack of this nutrient can lead to a very low yield.
Potassium improves the turgidity of the cells of plants. This helps the plants to resist and tolerate diseases and pests.
Potassium regulates the opening and closing of the stomata, this impacts the photosynthetic process in plants and also regulates the use of CO2.
Heat and drought resistance
With good amount of potassium, plantain plants can tolerate heat and drought well. This is due to the fact that potassium is the nutrient that regulates the use of water in plants through a process called osmo-regulation.
Potassium is very important in plantain farming.