The plantain crop always benefits from the use of fertilizer (table 1). The yield from fertilized plants can be up to 10 times higher than that from unfertilized plants. The amount of fertilizer needed depends on soil fertility and soil type. General recommendations cannot be made as these should be based on soil or leaf analysis and the results of fertilizer experiments. Since potassium and nitrogen are easily leached, they should always be applied at regular intervals (split applications) during the growing (rainy) season. Other important nutrients are phosphate, calcium and magnesium which are provided in one application. In some exceptional cases, micro-nutrients (for example, zinc or sulfur) have to be applied.
|Control||Fertilizer||Mulch||Mulch + fertilizer|
- 550 kg of potassium oxide and 300 kg of nitrogen per hectare
- 80 tons per hectare of Pennisetum purpureum (elephant grass)
To produce a heavy bunch, plantains always need some extra nutrients. These can be applied in the form either of inorganic fertilizers or organic fertilizers (mulch, manure or ash from wood fires). Inorganic fertilizers have the advantages of easy handling and concentrated nutrients. Organic fertilizers are very bulky, yet they manifest many important characteristics. They improve soil moisture retention, weed and erosion control, soil porosity and biological activity.
The application of fertilizer should start 1 month after planting of plantains or with the first rains in an already existing field. The fertilizer is applied around the main plant in a circle about 50 cm in diameter. Fertilizer is not worked into the soil as that causes extensive damage to the superficial root system. No fertilizer is applied in the dry season.