Water use efficiency - SQM Specialty Plant Nutrition
Efficiency in water use

Efficiency in water use

In saline soil, plants cannot take up enough water to meet their evaporative demands because of the low osmotic potential of the soil water. Consequently, higher transpiration induces water loss from the plant leaves. This reduction induces stomatal closure, which prevents the transport of water vapor and CO2, and thus photosynthesis and transpiration decrease.

Some nutrients, such as potassium and nitrate, have already proven to significantly boost the efficiency of water use in plants. This type of nutrient is a strategic ally where water supply is restricted. But even in areas where there is adequate water supply, the use of potassium and nitrate will increase the yield per acre, or alternatively, allow any surplus water to be targeted for other additional crops.

Plants that are under water stress combined with potassium deficiency, sweat more, and therefore, need to absorb more water to stay healthy. Research showed that plants adequately supplied with K, showed greater WUE when fed with nitrate compared to ammonium as the nitrogen source. And so, potassium nitrate is essential to the efficient use of water.

SQM's potassium nitrate contributes to a more efficient use of water. High supply of nitrates in the nutrient solution reduces the absorption of chloride, avoiding the use of additional irrigation to remove salinity from the soil, regulates the opening and closing of stomata, resulting in less need for water per kg of plant biomass.

So, how does potassium nitrate
improve water use efficiency?

Improves plant's water management:

Nitrate-fed plants utilize water twice as efficient as ammonium-fed plants.

Prevents water loss:

Potassium is responsible for opening and closing of stomata. Adequate potassium supply optimizes plant transpiration and reduces its water requirement.

Increases water uptake efficiency:

Adequate potassium nutrition of the plant enhances its water sourcing efficiency from the soil.

Prevents undesirable salinization of the root zone:

Application of potassium nitrate as main K-source eliminates the need for additional irrigation to remove undesirable salts from the root zone.

Learn more about water use efficiency:

Higher productivity

Potassium nitrate is crucial for any sustainable fertilization program. Balanced nutrient management reduces the amount of fertilizer applied per unit area and unit produced compared to other potassium sources, which increases farmer income.

The nitrate in potassium nitrate enhances the formation of organic acids (carboxylates) and their exudation to the soil. This facilitates the release of phosphate and micronutrients from the soil particles into the soil solution.

Increases nutritional value

Potassium nitrate increases the content of nutrients beneficial to human health like potassium, or antioxidants like vitamin C.

Increases fruit size and improves visual appearance

Numerous trials have shown that potassium nitrate is instrumental to enhance fruit diameter and increase uniformity. Uniform coloring and reduction of blemishes makes fruits/vegetables more attractive to receive a better market price.

Reduces crop loss and waste in the product value chain

Well balanced plant nutrition increases tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses during the crop cycle, resulting in reduced crop losses. KNO3 also enhances content of antioxidants, disease tolerance, optimal dry matter content and moisture control that improves storage quality of produce, prolonging its shelf life.

Innovative products

To keep contributing to a sustainable agriculture, while guaranteeing profitability for the growers, SQM has been developing innovative products, such as Ultrasol® ProHydriQ and Ultrasol®ine.

Ultrasol® ProHydriQ’s main objective is to fight the lack of water in soils and crops, thus optimizing the molecular recovery of water in soils, contributing to the efficient use of water. It also contains a combination of elements with hygroscopic and moisturizing effects, acting on the water vapor molecules in the soil, condensing, retaining and making them available for crops or fruit trees.

Ultrasol®ine –potassium nitrate with iodine– conveniently and adequately applied ensures the iodine supply to fertigated crops in order to maximize crop yield and quality and improves plant resilience to environmental stress. Iodine, the newly discovered plant nutrient, is needed for fruit production and timely flowering, photosynthesis, sugar production and root growth.