Fertilizer Management in Potatoes: Organic, Compost Manure, NPK, and Schedule

Potatoes are heavy feeders and require ample fertilizer for optimal yields. Nutrition programs for Potatoes can help you achieve optimal crop performance and maximize the yield and quality of all Potato crops. Potato plants generally require large amounts of nutrients to produce acceptable yields. Seed Potatoes provide deep, loose, acidic soil with a pH of 4.8 to 6.5 and add a lot of potassium and nitrogen, helping them get off to a strong start. Let’s check out more information about fertilizer management in Potatoes.

Fertilizer Management in Potatoes
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The amount of fertilizer application depends on the soil test results. Potato growth and profitable production depend on many management factors, one of which is to ensure an adequate supply of nutrients. Fourteen elements or nutrients derived from the soil are essential for plant growth. Fertilizer application becomes necessary when the supply of nutrients from the soil is not adequate to meet the development requirements. Therefore, a nutrient management program is essential to maintain a healthy Potato crop, improve tuber production, and reduce adverse effects on the environment. 

Fertilizer management in Potatoes

Types of fertilizer for growing Potatoes

Potato is a very intensive crop and needs a much higher rate of nutrients due to higher dry matter production per unit area. However, because most of our soil is deficient in available nutrients and the crop’s root system is shallow and sparse, nutrient demand is usually not met by soil. That is why the crop responds well to external sources of nutrients. Therefore, the nutritional requirements of the Potato crop are very high, and the use of fertilizers and organic fertilizers is considered essential for achieving economic and higher yields.

The use of green manure is beneficial in light soils and in areas where organic manure is not readily available. However, the maximum dose of fertilizer application varies greatly depending on soil type, soil fertility, climate, crop rotation, type, length of the growing season, and moisture supply. 

Choosing the type of fertilizer to grow your Potatoes is a matter of personal preference. There are many different ways to help your Potatoes grow; you can choose the organic route or standard chemical fertilizers. Whichever method you choose to fertilize your crop (and you will need to add some fertilizer to grow a good Potato crop), you need to decide whether you will use your fertilizer in the usual way.

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Potato Farming
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Organic fertilizers 

Organic growers use a variety of fertilizers during the growing season after planting seed Potatoes. Using a cotton meal, bone meal, and green sand increases soil acidity and provides nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. In combination, kelp detects small amounts of minerals in food. When the soil is prepared for most vegetable crops, the fertilizer is added to the soil. When the soil is ready from above, the fertilizer settles on top of the soil.

In exchange for growing cover crops, many organic gardeners apply soil fertilizer and well-decomposed manure, such as chicken manure. Manure helps the soil retain moisture, and well-decomposed manure helps lower soil pH and increase nutrients. Compost and manure can be mixed with bone meal, greensand, and kelp to complete the fertilizer program before planting. After planting and digging the furrows, the manure mixture is added to the soil. 

Compost manure 

Manure is an excellent amendment to the soil where Potatoes will be grown unless the manure is fresh. For use in the plants without the risk of burning young plants, the fertilizer must either be allowed to recover in the winter or spend adequate time in the compost heap, where it can be heated to temperatures between 57 and 71°C. Heat to medium heat.

Either of these methods can kill potentially harmful bacteria and pathogens that may contain fresh manure and reduce the intensity of the manure to some extent. However, well-digested Farmyard Manure (FYM), animal manure, and waste manure are heavy and provide small amounts of plant nutrients used as major organic manure. They usually apply 15-30 tonnes/hectare, depending on availability.

In addition to the essential nutrients, this organic matter is rich in secondary and micronutrients, which significantly increase crop yields, soil fertility, and physical condition. Soil physical condition is improved by water infiltration, water storage capacity, aeration, permeability, soil aggregation, root depth, reduction of soil crusting, bulk density, runoff, and erosion.

Fertilizing tips for better results 

  • The role of organic manure is well established, and 15-30 tons per hectare of well-digested farmyard manure, leaf mold, or compost gives better results depending on the organic matter content of the soil. 
  • Using 3 to 5 quintal/hectare of well-powdered neem-cake helps control the pests and provides nutrients to the plants. These fertilizer doses should be supplemented with the required amount of fertilizer. In addition to the essential nutrients, the crop also needs micronutrients that must be applied as the soil is losing them quickly.
  • P application improves the number of tubers, improves the size, helps in faster bulking, accelerates maturation, and counteracts the harmful effects of excessive N. 
  • Potassium is a standard element and enhances dry matter, starch content, and better cooking quality. It improves tuber production by increasing their size and helps in the efficient use of N. Potassium provides resistance to water pressure and disease. 
  • Sulfur is another nutrient recognized as the fourth largest plant nutrient after nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The use of sulfur has been an excellent response to Potato production. But because of differences in location, soil types, available sulfur status, sulfur sources, genotypes, growth conditions, and crop management levels, these reactions have been found to vary widely. 

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Potato Farm
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Slow-release vs quick-release fertilizer for Potatoes

The slow or quick release option depends solely on your preference and expectation of results. Immediate release options usually come in a water-soluble form that delivers nutrients immediately upon application. It can result in rapid improvement, especially if the tubers or seedlings are in less desirable soil. 

Highly concentrated, slow-release options offer plants a stable, consistent supply of nutrients over a long period. Instead of drowning your plants in large amounts of nutrients at once, this can have a devastating effect. No watering is required for activation and is less likely to reach nearby surfaces or groundwater. 

NPK fertilizer

Nitrogen (N) – N is the element that often restricts Potato growth. Nitrogen fertilizer is necessary to ensure profitable Potato production. Both rate and time can significantly impact production and quality. Proper management of N is one of the most critical factors required to achieve a high yield of the best quality Potatoes. Adequate early season N supply is essential for plant growth. Its use is necessary for successful Potato production. An appropriate amount of nitrogen increases the number of roots and shoots and the size of tubes.

Phosphorus (P) – Phosphorus is essential in the early growth of crops, increasing tuber set, and promoting tuber maturity. In addition, phosphorus is necessary to develop roots and shoots, providing energy for plant processes such as ion uptake and transport. Roots absorb phosphate ions only when they are dissolved in soil water. Phosphorus deficiency can also occur in soils where P is abundant if drought, low temperature, or disease interfere with the spread of P through soil solution to the root.

These deficiencies will result in root development and insufficient work. Phosphorus improves yield with its positive effect on the number of tubers and the size of Potato tubers. On average, some P fertilizer is required to reach maximum Potato production in sandy soils. Therefore, it is recommended that studies be conducted locally to determine the reaction of Potatoes to P fertilizer. 

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Growing Potatoes
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Potassium (K) – Potatoes contain a significant amount of K, and these nutrients play an essential role in the production and quality of tubers. Soil tests are very useful in predicting soil response to K. Both broadcast and banded applications can be used on low K testing soils, which require high rates of K fertilizer application. In addition, potato plants take in large amounts of potassium during the growing season. 

Potassium plays an essential role in controlling the water status of plants and the internal ion concentration of plant tissues, with particular emphasis on stomatal function. Potassium is necessary for high yields. This macronutrient determines the efficient transport of other essential nutrients and carbohydrates from the leaves to the tuber. Potassium also reduces the presence of internal darkening during growth. 

The nutritional requirements of the Potato crop are very high, and the use of fertilizers and organic manures is considered essential for achieving economic and higher yields. The use of green manure is beneficial in light soils and in areas where organic manure is not readily available. The maximum dose of fertilizer application varies greatly depending on soil type, soil fertility, climate, crop rotation, type, length of the growing season, and moisture supply.

Fertilizer application of 180-240 kg N, 60-90 kg P2O5, and 85-130 K2O per hectare is recommended for alluvial soil. It is recommended to apply 100-150 kg N, 100-150 kg P2O5, and 50-100 kg K2 O per hectare in mountainous areas. Approximately 120-150 kg N, 50 kg P2O5, and K2 O are recommended in plateau black soils. 120 kg N, 115 kg P2 O5, and 120 K2O kg per hectare are recommended for Potato production in acidic soils. Two-thirds of N and whole-food of P and K are given at the cultivation time.

Balance N is given during the earthing-up operation. Then, fertilizer is applied by banding at a distance of 5 cm from the tubers. The best fertilizers for Potatoes are the ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate, followed by calcium ammonium nitrate, ammonium chloride, and urea. 

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Harvesting Potatoes
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Fertilizer requirement (kg / acre) 

Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Sulfur (S) – Most soils contain sufficient amounts of secondary nutrients for Potato crop production. However, acidic soils are low in organic matter and may require adding one or more of these nutrients. As a source of lime for acidic soils, Dolomitic lime will provide both calcium and magnesium.

UreaSSPMuriate of Potash

Macronutrient uptake in Potatoes 

The amount of nutrients in Potatoes varies with the stage of crop growth. Macronutrients are in high demand during early spring growth; plants need to have adequate nutrients when needed. Both potassium and nitrogen are required during Potato plant growth and tuber formation. Potassium is the most commonly used nutrient in Potato crops and is needed in large quantities with nitrogen to achieve high crop yields. 


If your Potato plants turn light green or yellow while the leaf veins remain green, or if they become scorched, the soil may be deficient in nutrients. The common deficiencies when growing Potatoes are magnesium and sulfur. Iron and manganese, both micronutrients, are also essential for Potatoes. The first step in overcoming these deficiencies is to test the soil or test it yourself with a soil test to find out which nutrients or micronutrients are causing the problem.

Once the deficiency is identified, you can apply the appropriate fertilizer to fix it. But, again, a balanced crop nutrition strategy is essential. Although tiny amounts are required, the right balance of micronutrients must be added as these are vital elements in achieving high yields. The most critical micronutrients in Potatoes are boron, copper, manganese, and zinc. 

Potato fertilizer application methods 

The fertilizer application method can primarily affect the number of nutrients required to reach the crop throughout the season. Broadcast applied phosphorus (P) can be an ineffective method of phosphorous fertilization for Potatoes as it is highly active in the soil and is not generally recommended.

However, nitrate-nitrogen can be either transmitted or turned off at planting. Since it is relatively active in the soil depending on the season, either method can provide equal availability to the crop and plant roots. (Although no way will affect it. It is likely to be lost in a wet spring before the crop can use it). 

Possible ways to apply fertilizer to Potatoes

  1. Spread all the fertilizer before planting.
  2. Banding all the fertilizer to the planter. 
  3. Before planting, apply a split application with all potash and some nitrogen broadcast. The rest of the nitrogen and all phosphorus is tied to the planter. 
  4. A split application with all phosphorus and some nitrogen with planter plus residual nitrogen and all potash broadcast before planting or after plant emergence, before initial healing operation. 

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Potato Harvest
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Frequently asked questions about fertilizing Potatoes (FAQ)

Can you over fertilizer to Potatoes? 

In addition to the many green foliages, the over-fertilized Potatoes may have leaves that become spoiled or roll up under pressure because they have put all their resources into making the leaves at the expense of the roots. 

Why are my Potatoes so tall? 

When too much fertilizer (especially nitrogen) is given, the Potato plants will grow taller. Overgrown Potato plants can grow taller due to over-feeding (primarily if you use a high nitrogen fertilizer). It will promote a lot of healthy green growth above ground.

Is Epsom Salt Good for Potatoes? 

Yes, adding Epsom salt to Potato plants helps crop yield. It provides a good source of magnesium to plants, which is beneficial in stimulating biochemical reactions. It also helps build strong cell walls and supports plant growth. 

Do Potatoes like manure? 

As long as the Potatoes grow in practically any soil, they will do better if the soil is mixed with decomposed organic matter such as farmyard manure and it is loose/fine.



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