Frontiers in Potassium Science: Developing a Roadmap to Advance the Science of Potassium Soil Fertility Evaluation

During the past few decades, the move toward site-specific nutrient management has created a demand for greater accuracy and precision in soil potassium (K) evaluation. In many areas, the desired accuracy and precision are not attainable with current soil testing approaches. Practitioners have often not been able to explain why soil-test K varies across the landscape or over time in response to management practices. Additionally, definitive calibrations of K soil tests to crop responses have not been achievable in some areas.

The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) hosted a workshop to convene a small group of highly creative and accomplished scientists from around the world to discuss these issues and create a roadmap that outlines what scientific work must be done in the future to improve our ability to evaluate soil K fertility and predict the impact of K amendments on crop productivity. This roadmap is of critical importance to IPNI Member Companies whose objective is to manufacture and distribute K fertilizers in quantities needed to provide K in the right form, rate, time, and place for proper plant nutrition. Only then can we meet the needs for food, feed, fiber, and fuel production and provide other ecosystem services of interest to society now and into the future.

The scope of the workshop was confined to creating a list of strategies for explaining and managing significant spatial and temporal variability in the contributions of fertilizer K and soil K to plant nutrition. The group was asked to identify critical concepts that were missing or were inadequately characterized in existing soil K assessments or K recommendations.

The objectives of the workshop were:
    1. to create a network of innovative scientists who effectively communicate across disciplines to advance the science of soil K evaluation;
    2. to describe the key issues in evaluating soil K fertility and to communicate those issues to applied scientists; and
    3. to develop a roadmap that guides future efforts to advance the science of soil K evaluation.

This report provides a summary of the structure and outcomes of the Frontiers in Potassium Science Workshop held 26-30 January, 2015 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii in conjunction with the International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis (

Additional Resources

K Frontiers Summary.pdfSize: 2.18 MB