Toward Soil Nutrient Security for Improved Agronomic Performance and Increased Resilience of Taro Production Systems in Samoa

Antille, Diogenes L.
Macdonald, Ben C. T.
Uelese, Aleni
Webb, Michael J.
Kelly, Jennifer
Tauati, Seuseu
Stockmann, Uta
Palmer, Jeda
Barringer, James R. F.
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A progressive decline in soil fertility in taro (Colocasia esculenta L., Schott) production systems has contributed to reduced crop productivity and farm profitability, and is recognized to be a threat to soil nutrient and food security in Samoa. Evidence based on three years of field experimentation showed that appropriate nutrient budgeting is required to reduce soil nutrient deficits and mitigate soil organic carbon loss. Balanced crop nutrition coupled with appropriate crop husbandry can significantly improve productivity and narrow yield gaps. A framework to guide nutrient recommendations for taro production systems is presented and discussed. This framework proposes that recommendations for N be derived from the yield-to-N response function (from which the most economic rate of N can be estimated) and that for other nutrients, namely P, K, Ca, and Mg, recommendations be based on replacement. The replacement strategy requires the development of soil nutrient indexes, which can be used to define the long-term nutrient management policy at the field scale. This long-term policy is informed by soil analyses, and it will determine whether existing soil nutrient levels are to be maintained or increased depending on the focus (productivity, profitability, environmental protection). If soil nutrients were already at an agronomically satisfactory level, their application may be omitted in some years to help reduce crop production costs, improve use efficiency, and ensure environmentally safe levels in soil are not exceeded.
© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Soil Systems, 2023, available online at: . Keywords: fertilizer recommendations; legume intercropping; nutrient budgeting; soil nutrient balance; soil nutrient index; yield gap.
Antille, D.L.; Macdonald, B.C.T.; Uelese, A.; Webb, M.J.; Kelly, J.; Tauati, S.; Stockmann, U.; Palmer, J.; Barringer, J.R.F. Toward Soil Nutrient Security for Improved Agronomic Performance and Increased Resilience of Taro Production Systems in Samoa. Soil Syst. 2023, 7, 21. 10.3390/soilsystems7010021