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FERTILIZER USE IN GROUNDNUT PRODUCTION*

Yayock, J . Y . and Y„ Yusuf

Department o f Agronomy
I n s t i t u t e f o r A g r ic u lt u r a l R esearch
Ahmadu B e llo U n iv e r s ity
Z a r ia -

-^1.
In tro d u c tio n

B efo re the p re se n t downward tren d in groundnut p ro d u ctio n which

s t a r t e d with the drought o f 1972 and 1973? N ig e r ia had h ith e r to been a

m ajor e x p o rte r o f the commodity, second only to I n d ia . Follow in g the

w orsening low p r o d u c tiv ity in 1975 and 1978 due to r o s e t t e d is e a s e

epidem ic as w ell a s unknown (p ro b ab ly environm ental) f a c t o r s , a pro­

gramme to r e h a b i l i t a t e the crop was s t a r t e d in v o lv in g m in i s t r i e s , re se a rc h

i n s t i t u t i o n s , the N ig e ria n Groundnut Board and s e v e r a l o th e r o r g a n is a tio n s

and b o d ie s concerned with groundnut p ro d u ctio n and p r o c e s s in g . I t is

a g a in s t t h i s background th a t t h i s p re s e n ta tio n h as been p rep ared to a s s i s t

in the on-going e x te n sio n e f f o r t s to b o o st y ie ld s and p ro d u ctio n .

Among agronomic p r in c ip le s n e c e ssa ry fo r produ cin g a good crop o f

groundnut a re the u se o f recommended v a r i e t i e s , the p la n tin g o f good q u a lit y

se e d s, the p re p a r a tio n o f good se e d -b e d s, sowing a t optimum depth, tim ely

sowing, the m aintenance o f optimum p la n t p o p u la tio n s, the a p p ro p ria te u se

*P a p e r p rep ared f o r an in - s e r v ic e co u rse on 'Groundnut and Cotton P ro du ctio n


in N ig e r ia ' o rg a n ise d under the a u sp ic e s o f the F e d e ra l Department o f
A g ric u ltu re and the A g r ic u lt u r a l E x ten sio n and R esearch L ia is o n S e r v ic e s o f
Ahmadu B e llo U n iv e r s ity , Z a r ia , 22 - 30 J u l y , 1981.
2 .
o f f e r t i l i z e r s , the a p p lic a t io n o f e f f e c t i v e m easures f o r th e c o n tro l o f

weeds, in s e c t s and d i s e a s e s , and tim e ly h a r v e s t. I t i s th e a sp e c t o f

f e r t i l i z e r u se and s o i l amendment about which t h i s review i s co n ce n trate d .

N u tr ie n ts Taken Up

The amounts o f n u tr ie n ts taken up by crops depend on the ty p e o f

p la n t and the y ie ld l e v e l . Compared with o th e r f i e l d c ro p s, the groundnut

p la n t ap p ears r e l a t i v e l y more e f f i c i e n t in o b ta in in g pi,ant food from the

s o il. T able 1 below l i s t s the amounts o f m ajor n u tr ie n ts removed in

average h a rv e ste d y i e ld s o f a s e le c t io n o f c ro p s, in c lu d in g groundn uts.

Table 1. Amounts o f m ajor n u tr ie n ts taken up by a good crop o f groundnut


r e l a t i v e to o th er crop s

Y ie ld Level N u trie n ts (k g /h a)
Crop (k g /h a ) N P K Ca Mg s

Groundnut 1,200 (K ern el) 72 7 1+2 15 9 6


Wheat 1|,000 ( g ra in + straw ) 80 12 l+o 10 5 20
B a rle y i;,000 ( g ra in + straw ) 70 12 30 10 5 15
Beans 2 ,5 0 0 (g r a in ) 110 1$ 50 20 5 25
I . P o ta to e s $0,000 (tu b e r s ) 180 2$ 200 10 15 20
G rass 10,000 (d ry crop) 2$0 30 250 70 20 15

I t i s c le a r , th e r e fo r e , th a t by in t e n s iv e ly croppin g a p ie c e o f lan d ,

f o r w hatever reaso n and w ithout su p p ly in g n u tr ie n ts from e x t e r n a l so u rc e s,

the s o i l s stan d the r i s k o f b ein g exh au sted o f n u tr ie n ts even though th e se

might have been adequate a t the b eg in n in g .


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S a t i s f y i n g the N u trie n t Heeds o f Groundnuts

The n u tr ie n t requirem en ts o f groundnuts i s p r im a r ily a fu n c tio n

o f the v a r i e t y u se d , the s o i l n u tr ie n t co n te n t, the e c o lo g ic a l lo c a tio n

a s w e ll a s the le v e l o f crop husbandry p r a c t i s e d . In o th e r words, the

type and amount o f n u tr ie n t needed i s a fu n c tio n of the crop p o t e n t ia l

which the p a r t i c u l a r s o i l and environment i s cap ab le o f su p p o rtin g

under a giv en le v e l of agronomic p r a c t i c e s and management.

In rev iew in g how the n u tr ie n t needs o f groundnuts are met in the

co n tex t o f N ig e r ia , i t i s im portan t to r e c a l l th a t the crop i s g e n e r a lly

l e s s s e n s i t iv e to f e r t i l i z e r a p p lic a t io n s than o th er f i e l d c r o p s . Apart

from i t s h ig h er e f f i c ie n c y in o b ta in in g p la n t food from the s o i l a s

mentioned e a r l i e r , groundnuts ap p ear b e t t e r adapted to e x p lo re r e s id u a l

f e r t i l i z e r s l e f t from a p p lic a t io n s to p re v io u s c r o p s .

N itro gen (N )—The absence o f n itro g e n in adequate amounts r e s u l t s in

groundnuts whose p la n ts become l i g h t g reen , with lower le a v e s f i r s t

a f f e c t e d but o th er le a v e s soon fo llo w . E v e n tu a lly the lower le a v e s fade

to p a le y ello w , then brown w ith l a t e r sh eddin g.

I t i s f a i r l y w ell e s t a b lis h e d th a t the groundnut c u l t i v a r s c u rr e n tly

recommended to the N ig e ria n farm er are v e ry cap ab le o f f i x i n g t h e i r own

n itr o g e n . The a p p lic a t io n o f n itro g e n o u s f e r t i l i z e r s , p a r t i c u l a r l y as

n itr o c h a lk (Calcium Ammonium N it r a t e ) on ly in c r e a s e s haulm y ie ld w ithout

a f f e c t i n g p o d s. Thus, except in s i t u a t i o n s where the l e v e l o f s o i l n itro g e n

i s known to be c r i t i c a l l y low ( in which c a se 20 kg N/ha may be a p p lie d as

a ' s t a r t e r ' dose in the form o f e it h e r CAN. or U re a ), the u se o f n itro g e n


on groundnuts i s g e n e r a lly n ot econom ical

Phosphorus (p ) — Of the m ajor f e r t i l i z e r s , S in g le Superphosphate i s

g e n e rsd ly re c o g n ise d a s the most im portant f o r groundn uts. The absence

o f adequate phosphorus norm ally r e s u lt s in dark-green p l a n t s , with p e t i o l e s

and l e a f l e t s t i l t e d upwards^ p la n t s may e v e n tu a lly become sp in d ly and

stu n te d . A part from i t s content o f phosphorus (8% P ) , S in g le Superphos­

phate a ls o c o n ta in s (T ab le 2) Ga and Hj°/o S . Such o th e r so u rce s o f

phosphorus a s T r ip le Superphosphate and Phosphate Rock have h ig h e r

co n ten ts o f P bu t a re sh o rt in su lp h u r. Thus, wherever a so u rce o f

phosphorus o th er than S in g le Superphosphate i s u se d , then su lp h u r must

be su p p lie d s e p a r a t e ly .

P o tassiu m ( k ) —I nadequate su p p ly o f p o tassiu m in groundnuts u s u a lly

r e s u l t s in p la n ts whose le a v e s become l i g h t green with n e c r o t ic a r e a s

alo n g m argins which may merge to produce a scorch ed e f f e c t . U n t il r e c e n tly

when a p o s s ib le need f o r p o tassiu m h as been dem onstrated in c e r t a in a r e a s ,

the elem ent h as h ith e r to been presumed adequate f o r s o i l s in the Savanna.

Thus, the u se o f p o tassiu m f e r t i l i z e r , e it h e r a s the p o ta sh (P otassiu m

S u lp h a te ) o r the c h lo rid e (P otassiu m C h lo rid e) (T ab le 2) i s su g g e ste d fo r

d r i f t sandy s o i l s and farm lands which are in t e n s iv e ly c u lt iv a t e d and

cropped
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C alcium (C a)— Calcium d e fic ie n c y in groundnuts i s r e f l e c t e d by u n f i l l e d

podSj the darken ing o f the plumule o f the seed embryo and in reduced

pod developm ent. Under sev ere c a se s o f d e fic ie n c y , c h lo r o s is , p e t io le

breakdown, w ilt in g and death o f te rm in a ls a s w ell as ro o t d is o r g a n is a tio n

r e su lt. B ased on e x i s t in g in fo rm atio n i t i s b e lie v e d th a t the calcium

co n tain ed in S in g le Superphosphate (19% Ca) or o th er so u rce s o f phosphorus

(T able 2) i s adequate to meet the needs o f groundnuts under most Savanna

so ils. However, wherever a high p ro p o rtio n o f u n f i l l e d pods (= b lin d n u ts =

pops) i s o b serv ed , as a t Ladanawa and Dambatta du rin g y e a r s o f u n favou rable

r a i n f a l l , the u se o f calciu m , e it h e r as lime (Calcium C arbon ate, CaCO^)

o r gypsum (Calcium S u lp h a te , CaSO^.SHgO) would be b e n e f i c i a l . When a p p lie d ,

lim e in c r e a s e s the s o i l pH (from a c id to n e u tr a l) and a ls o su p p lie s

calcium s the use o f gypsum s u p p lie s both calcium and su lp h u r (18% S . ) but

does not in flu e n c e s o i l pH.

Magnesium (Mg)—-The f i r s t symptom o f magnesium d e fic ie n c y i s in te r v e in a l

c h lo r o s is o f the te rm in a l le a v e s and s tu n tin g o f the p l a n t . In sev ere

c a s e s , p la n ts co m p letely lo s e t h e ir green c o lo u r and d ie . Magnesium has

been dem on strated to be a f a c t o r in pod p ro d u ctio n .

Most Savanna s o i l s co n tain adequate n a tiv e magnesium to meet the

needs o f groundnuts and a s such i t i s not p r e s e n t ly a recommended f e r t i l i z e r

on a ro u tin e b a s i s . Where B a s ic S la g i s u sed a s a sou rce o f phosphorus

(7% P) i t a ls o s u p p lie s 32% Ca a s w e ll a s J/ o Mg. Where i t i s n e c e ssa ry


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to ap p ly lim e to the crop , the u se o f the d o lo m itic form (CaCO^.MgCO^)

to su p p ly both calcium and magnesium would be an ad v an tag e. However, as

a d ir e c t so u rce o f magnesium, the su lp h a te form (Magnesium S u lp h a te , 10^b Mg +

1jj% S) i s p r e fe r r e d .

S u lp h u r(S')---Probably no s in g le element i s more d e f ic ie n t in the s o i l s o f

the Savanna fo r groundnut p ro d u ctio n than i s su lp h u r. D e fic ie n c y of

Sulphur i s d i f f i c u l t to v i s u a l l y d is t in g u is h from n itro g e n d e fic ie n c y ,

excep t th a t the term in al le a v e s are th e f i r s t to show S d e fic ie n c y and

the o ld e r le a v e s or the e n tir e p la n t s f i r s t show N d e fic ie n c y .

So lon g as S in g le Superphosphate remains the main sou rce o f phosphorus,

i t s su lp h u r content (11$> S) i s adequate such th a t no a d d it io n a l sulphur

needs to be a p p lie d to the N ig e ria n groundnut cro p . However, should o th er

forms o f phosphorus f e r t i l i z e r s be u se d , i t i s im p erativ e th a t su lp h u r

be su p p lie d e it h e r in the. elem en tal form o r a s a component o f o th e r

f e r t i l i z e r s (T ab le 2 ) .

Minor N u trie n ts (F e , Mn, Zn, B, Cu, Mo, Co)—Of the minor p la n t n u t r ie n t s ,

boron and molybdenum are perh aps the most im portant in groundnut produc­

tio n under N ig e ria n c o n d itio n s . Both elem ents have been shown to be

d e f ic ie n t in some s o i l s , alth ou gh experim ents have so f a r f a i l e d to

show, c o n s is t e n t resp o n se s to them. Where re sp o n se s to molybdenum have

been demonstro/ted, y i e l d in c r e a s e s have been only m a rg in a l. i


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T able 2 . N u trie n t content o f some common f e r t i l i z e r m a t e r ia ls u se a b le

in groundnut p ro d u c tio n .

N u trie n t Content (%)


F e r t i l i z e r M a te ria l
N P K Ca Mg s

U rea )46
Calcium Ammonium N it r a t e (CAN) 26 - - 13 - -
S in g le Superphosphate (SSP) - 8 - 19 - 1U
T r ip le Superphosphate (TSP) - 19 U m - 1.5
Phosphate Rock - 11-18 - 33 - -
B a s ic S la g - 7 - 32 3 0 .2
P otassium C h loride (KCl) - - 5o - - -
P otassium Su lp h ate (K^SO^) - - U1 - - 17
Gypsum - - - 22 - 18
Magnesium S u lp h ate - - - - 10 13

Y ie ld re sp o n se s a t t r ib u t a b le to boron h as not been d em on strated.

P erh aps more im portant than the d ir e c t y i e l d b e n e fit from in d iv id u a l

m ic ro -n u trie n t elem ents i s t h e i r ro le in m ain tain in g n u t r i t io n a l

b a la n c e s. S tu d ie s on t h is a sp e c t are under way and may w ell r e s u l t in

a p ro p er u n d erstan d in g o f the a s p e c ts o f y i e l d d e clin e which s t i l l remain

in e x p lic a b le .
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Suggested. Source and Rate

From the above b r i e f d is c u s s io n and from knowledge which i s

c u rr e n tly a v a ila b le on the b a s i s o f re se a rc h and experien ce

under N ig e ria n c o n d itio n s, the su g g e stio n s con tain ed in Table 3

on f e r t i l i z e r u se in groundnuts would l i k e l y r e s u l t in s u b s t a n t ia l

pod in c r e a s e s th a t the e f f e c t iv e n e s s o f and b e n e f it s from f e r t i l i s e r

u se can only be r e a l i s e d when optimum growth c o n d itio n s and a

re a so n a b ly high le v e l o f crop husbandry are m ain tain ed .


9 .
Table 3» l?e r t i l i z e r Sources and R ates f o r Groundnuts

S u g gested C ircum stances


S u g gested Package M a te r ia l o f Use
1, 8 k g /h a P 100 k g/h a SSP(2 b a g s ) * S u g gested p r a c t ic e under
(- p r e s e n t recom­ or 55 k g/h a TSP (1 bag) c o n d itio n s prom oting l e s s
mendation co v erin g than good crop growth ( e g .
a l l growing a r e a s ) u n fav ou rab le r a i n f a l l )
an d /o r under su b -o ptim al
crop husbandry.
2 0 16 k g/h a P 200 k g/h a SSP([i b a g s) S u g gested p r a c t ic e under
or 110 k g/h a TSP(2-g- b a g s) c o n d itio n s prom oting good
crop growth ( e . g . fav o u ra­
b le r a i n f a l l ) an d /o r under
high l e v e l o f crop
husbandry.
3. 16 k g /h a P 200 k g/h a SSP (J+ b a g s) S u g gested p r a c t ic e under
or 110 k g/h a TSP(2-g- b a g s) K -d e p le te d s o i l s with
4 -
+ grow th-prom oting c o n d itio n s
25 k g/h a K
50 k g/h a K C l(l bag) ( e . g . fa v o u ra b le r a i n f a l l /
o r 60 k g/h a K pS0,( l i b a g s ) m o istu re ) an d /o r under a
high l e v e l o f crop husbandry..

l+. 160-200 k g/h a Ca 100-500 k g/h a Lime S u g ge ste d f o r a r e a s where


(8 -1 0 b a g s) s o i l pH i s a c id ic ( e . g .
l e s s than 5 °5 » A co n d itio n
o f fa v o u ra b le r a i n f a l l i s
an ad van tage.
5. 90 k g /h a Ca 100 k g/h a Gypsum S u g gested f o r s o i l s t y p i f i e d
(8 b a g s) by b lin d n u ts but whose pH
i s not below 5 °5 * A
c o n d itio n o f fav o u rab le
r a i n f a l l i s an ad v an tag e.
6 . 160 k g/h a Ca as Lime 1+00 k g/h a Lime.(8 b a g s) S u g gested f o r s o i l s where
s o i l pH i s l e s s than 5*9
+ + and where th e occurrence
90 k g/h a Ca a s Gypsum 1+00 k g/h a Gypsum o f b lin d n u t i s h ig h . A
(8 b ag s) coo n d itio n o f fav o u rab le
r a i n f a l l i s an advantage

O ne(l) bag w eighs 50 k g .


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F e r t i l i z e r A p p lic a tio n

Both P and K sh ould e it h e r be a p p lie d in o ld furrow s b e fo re

s p l i t t i n g the r id g e s , o r they should be s id e - d r e s s e d a t / o r s h o r tly

a f t e r p la n t in g . Lime should be sp read with the f i r s t r a in and, where

p o s s i b le , worked in to the s o i l l+~8 weeks b e fo re sow ing. Gypsum i s

n orm ally a p p lie d by d u stin g the p la n ts 2 -3 weeks a f t e r flo w e r o n se t.

Nutrient Conversion Factor

F a c to rs To Convert

A B A - B or B - A
m u ltip ly by

% ? 2°$ °/o P 0.U3 2 .2 9

% k2o % It O.8 3 1 .20

% CaCO^ % CaO 0 .5 6 1.79

% CaCO. % Ca 0.1+0 2 .5 0

% CaO % Ca 0.71 1.1+0

% M gC 03 % Mg 0 .2 8 5 3 .5 0

% MgO % Mg 0 .6 0 3 1.658
11 .

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