Potassium Function Enhances Crop Production Of Maize

Modern maize hybrids respond differently to the potassium function application due to variation in their uptake, accumulation, utilization, translocation and growth habits.

Potassium Function Enhances Crop Production Of Maize

Maize (Zea mays L.) is an imperative food and feed crop of the world and is often stated as “the king of grain crops”. After wheat and rice maize ranks third cereal crop in the world production and it is also a high value cereal crop of Pakistan.

Maize grains contain protein (10%), starch (72%), fiber (5.8%), oil (4.8%), sugar (3.0%), and ash (1.7%). It contains vitamin B-complex such as B1 (thiamine), B2 (niacin), B3, B5 and B6. That’s why it commendable for skin, hair, digestion, heart and brain.

Along with vitamin B-complex it also contains vitamin A, C and K together with large amount of beta carotene and small amount of selenium that play main role in suitable working of the immune system and helps to improve thyroid gland.

Maize has higher contents of fat and protein as compared to other cereal crops. The oil present in maize embryo is used for cooking and manufacture of soaps.

In current days the excessive amount of maize has been utilized in the production of varnishes, paints, ammunition, shortening the compounds and related several products.

Maize is a multipurpose crop which provides feed for the animals, food and fuel for the human being.  The by-product seed cake of maize is used for livestock feed.

Pollen and seeds of maize are the nutritious and edible parts for human consumption. Raw seeds are consumed and cooked form that works as good source of carbohydrates. It forms the main nutritional parts in the form of cake, porridge and bread of the many people in several regions of the world Africa, America and Asia.

Maize is able to take better advantage of sunlight than the most other major cereals crops and grows more rapidly because of the size and distribution of its foliage.

Due to high yielding cereal crop the maize could be the better choice for dealing with the problem of food shortage because it provides forage and food for animals and human beings.

Globally, maize crop is grown on an area of 159 million hectares with the total yield of 796.48 million tonnes.

In Pakistan maize crop is cultivated on 1.08 million hectares of land which has overall yield of 4631 thousand tonnes and average grain yield is 4.26 tonnes ha-1. Punjab shares 39% of the entire zone and 30% of overall production of maize; KP shares 56% of the entire area and 63% of the overall yield production while Baluchistan and Sindh contributes 5% of the entire area and 3% of the total yield production in Pakistan.

In Pakistan this level of yield is lower than the other countries which produce the maize like the USA (9840 kg ha-1), France (9474 kg ha-1), Italy (9668 kg ha-1), Canada (9193 kg ha-1) and Egypt (8173 kg ha-1). Pakistan is ranked, 24th among the maize producing countries.

In Pakistan average production of maize is very low due to abnormal plant density, insufficient fertilizer usage, scarce water supply, weeds problems, selection of unsuitable varieties and insect pest attack under a particular set of environmental conditions.

The maize production should be improved to sustain the quickly increasing demands for human food, livestock feed and biofuels at the world level.

Potential yield of maize can be attained by the proper use of agricultural inputs and advanced agronomic operations. For the achievement of high yield and good growth the maize crop must be provided with sufficient nutrients particularly phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium.

Maize crop can be cultivated in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world therefore this crop has worldwide adaptability. In various maize cultivating areas of the world the hybrid maize production has increased maize yield manifolds.

Several management practices requires for hybrid maize production especially of its fertilizer requirement which is higher than compared to that of ordinary maize varieties. Efficient maize hybrids exhibit the good fertilizer use efficiency.

These plant hybrids conserve the environment and reduce the input cost. These hybrids contain the high plasticity and higher grain yield because of genetic yield improvement. Maize hybrids have also improved morphology of the plants. Hybrids also increase the dry matter partitioning to the ear.

Modern maize hybrids respond differently to the potassium function application due to variation in their uptake, accumulation, utilization, translocation and growth habits.

Most of the farmers in Pakistan prefer to grow hybrid seeds of the maize which are high yielding. The maize crop differs with agri-management techniques, specifically management of fertilizers and the planting geometry.

In nutrient management the balanced nutrition is an imperative feature which shows a major function in increasing the quality and production of crop.

The presence of nutrients like sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium in well-adjusted forms is necessary for the main functions of plant growth, development and final yield production. The global research shows that application of fertilizers increase more than 50% production of crops.

Potassium is considered as one of the most essential macronutrients needed by the plants in growth, development and sustainable yield. It is an important fertilizer for increasing the grains yield of maize. It is considered that potassium function with the most imperative essential macronutrient of plants due to its main function in biochemistry and physiology of the plants.

Maize consumed 5.2 kg P2O5 ha-1 per day during the peak flowering period. After sowing during 38 to 52 days the maize plants require the total potassium up to 38% for the whole growing season.

Potassium function has also been deliberated as the most important quality and yield enhancing element in maize hybrids production. The growth and final production constituents of maize crop like the leaf area, crop growth rate, plant height, cob length, number of grains per cob, 1000-grains weight, biological and grain yield are considerably improved by the application of potassium fertilizer.

The fertilizer based on Potassium function improves the overall yield of maize due to increase in the kernel weight. All the growth parameters of maize increased by the application of potassium, viz. plant height, stem diameter and production of biomass.

Application of fertilizer based on potassium function also improves the effectiveness of the photosynthetic apparatus of the plants (leaf area and number of leaves). Irrespective of the sources the effects of higher application rate of potassium function was found meaningfully greater to the inferior application rate.

Due to calcareous nature Pakistani soils under the normal conditions have poor capacity to provide adequate potassium to crop plants.

Potassium function nutrient helps the plants to regulate the movement of stomata. Accumulation of potassium in the roots of plants creates osmotic pressure gradient that pulls up the water from soil into the roots of plants. If potassium supply is insufficient then the response of stomata become slow and the water vapors become lost.

Deficiency of potassium function nutrients resulted the largely disposed of crop plants to water scarcity. Potassium plays major function in the activation of enzymes, photosynthesis, protein synthesis, regulation of osmotic pressure, movement of the stomata, phloem transport, transfer of the energy, cation-anion balance in soil and in plants and resistance against the stress.

From all the mineral nutrients, Potassium function mainly in the metabolism and growth of plant life. It helps in survival of plant against the several biotic and abiotic stresses. Potassium is found one of the most ample nutrients in the plant tissues.

It is made up of about 1–10 percent total dry matter of the plants. It is an important nutrient of plants and is also considered as the largely ample cation found in the plant tissues. In the cytoplasm the potassium ions (K+) concentration has been observed between 100 and 200 mM.

The plants which contain higher potassium amount shows less pest damage due to lack of pests preference under the adequate concentration of the nutrients. In the depth of soil the potassium function in association with the other inorganic nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen produces the deeper rooting of plants.

Adverse effects of water logging on plants could be decreased by exogenous application of potassium. Application of potassium function underwater logging condition not only improved the photosynthetic capacity, photosynthetic pigments and plant growth, but also enhanced the nutrients’ uptake by the plant roots as an effect of higher accumulation of Mn2+, Ca2+, Fe2+, K+ and N.

This article is jointly written by Hafiz Muhammad Bilala*, Muhammad Shakeeb Umera, Haseeb Islama, Hafiza Tayyba Manzoorb from a. Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha, and b. Department of Zoology, The University of Lahore.

By Hafiz Muhammad Bilal

Ph.D. Scholar