The application of locally available invasive algae biomass as a fertilizer for crop production in Hawaii is being investigated as a substitute for imported chemical fertilizers. Three closely related greenhouse trials were conducted to determine if the algae served as a source of potassium (K) on growth, yield, and K mineral nutrition in pak choi (Brassica rapa, Chinensis group). In the first trial, three algal species (Gracilaria salicornia, Kappaphycus alvarezii, and Eucheuma denticulatum) were applied at five rates of K, each to evaluate their effects on growth and K nutrition of pak choi plants. The pak choi was direct seeded into 0.0027-m3 pots containing peatmoss-based growth media. In trial 2, pak choi was grown in peat media at six rates of K provided by algae (E. denticulatum) or by potassium nitrate (KNO3). In trial 3, the six rates of K were provided through algae (K. alvarezii), KNO3, and potassium chloride (KCl) and were compared for growth and K nutrition. Results from the first greenhouse trial showed no significant differences among the three algal species in yield or tissue K content of pak choi. However, plant yield and tissue K concentration were increased with application rates. The maximum yield and tissue K were observed when K was provided within the range of 250–300 kg·ha−1. Similarly, in Expts. 2 and 3, there were no significant differences between commercial K fertilizers and algal K species for yield. Only K rates were significant for yields and tissue K concentrations. It was concluded that K in the invasive algae was similarly available as K in commercial synthetic fertilizers for pak choi growth in terms of yield and tissue K content under our experimental conditions.
This research has been funded by USDA-WSARE project SW11-055 and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
We thank Robert E. Paull and Susan Miyasaka for internal review of the manuscript.
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