Environmentally safe release of plant available potassium and micronutrients from organically amended rock mineral powder

The staggering production of rock dusts and quarry by-products of mining activities poses an immense environmental burden that warrants research for value-added recycling of these rock mineral powders (RMP). In this study, an incubation experiment was conducted to determine potassium (K) and micronutrients (Zn, Cu, Fe and Mn) release from a quarry RMP to support plant nutrition. Four different size fractions of the RMP were incubated with organic amendments (cow dung and legume straw) under controlled conditions for 90 days. Samples were collected at different intervals (7, 15, 30, 45, 60 and90 days) for the analysis of available K and micronutrients in the mineral-OM mixtures and leachates. There was a significant (p\0.05) increase in pH of leachates from the mineral-OM mixtures. The K release was significantly higher from the finer size fraction of RMP. About 18.7% Zn added as RMP was released during the incubation period. Zn release increased from 4.7 to 23.2% as the particle size of RMP decreased. Similarly, Cu release from RMP increased from 2.9 to 21.6%, with a decrease in the particle size. Fe and Mn recovery from RMP recorded11.2 and 6.6%, respectively. Combined application of OM and RMP showed significantly higher nutrient release than other treatments. This study indicates that effective blending of RMP with organic amendments could be a potential source of K and micronutrients in agriculture without posing a risk of toxic element contamination to the soil.

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