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Title: Correcting soil nutrient deficiencies with organic materials in the atoll soils of the Marshall Islands 
Author: Deenik, Jonathan Leonard
Date: 2003-05
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Citation: Deenik, Jonathan Leonard (2003) Correcting soil nutrient deficiencies with organic materials in the atoll soils of the Marshall Islands. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawai'i, United States -- Hawaii.
Abstract: The coralline soils of atolls suffer from multiple nutrient deficiencies that severely limit crop growth. This study was conducted to assess the nutrient status of the soils of the inhabited atolls within the Marshall Islands (MI), and to determine what local materials could be used to correct deficiencies limiting crop growth. Surface and subsoils from 25 atolls were collected and analyzed for their chemical properties, and soil test results were evaluated with a missing element pot study.

Soil tests revealed that the MI soils were severely deficient in K (0.12 cmol c kg -1 ) and marginally deficient in Cu (0.13 ug g -1 ). The missing element study showed that the soil was deficient in K, S, N, P, and Cu. An incubation experiment and a series of greenhouse experiments were conducted to evaluate the ability of locally available organic materials to mineralize N and supply adequate nutrients to crops. Vigna marina and fish meal showed the highest N mineralization capacity, and the Gompertz equation provided the best fit. Chinese cabbage plants grew as well in soils amended with chicken manure, Vigna marina , and copra cake as they did in soil treated with chemical fertilizers. Plants grown in soil amended with fish meal did not grow as well due to inadequate K supply. Nitrogen recovery was highest in V. marina treatment at 92% followed by the chemical control (83%), chicken manure (34%), fish-meal (18%), and copra cake (9%). Added coconut leaves immobilized N and resulted in very poor cabbage growth. Comparisons between relative growth rate (RGR) and nutrient relative accumulation rate (RAR) showed that nutrients supplied from the V. marina amendment to the cabbage plant matched plant demand. In a rate experiment in the greenhouse, adding 10.1 g kg -1 of V. marina leaves (dry weight) supplied 350 mg N kg -1 to 5 week-old corn plants representing 38% of the total amount of N added in the amendment. Splitting the application quantity improved corn growth at the highest addition rate. Copra cake showed less promise as a suitable organic amendment. Supplementing copra with chemical N and P, and V. marina leaves with and without Cu and B did not improve crop growth compared with copra alone. The soil exhibited low P adsorption capacity, and corn and lettuce growth responded to high Olsen P soil levels.

The results of the greenhouse experiments showed that V. marina is a potential organic fertilizer material to correct soil nutrient deficiencies for good crop growth in the Marshall Islands.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/597
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Keywords: Soil nutrient, Organic materials, Atoll, Marshall Islands, Soil Sciences

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