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Keywords:

  • fertilizer use efficiency;
  • growth parameters;
  • 15N urea;
  • Philippines;
  • sago palm

Abstract

Previous trials have revealed variable responses of sago palm (Metroxylon sagu Rottb.) to fertilizer application, particularly nitrogen (N). In the present study, we quantified the fertilizer use efficiency (FUE) of sago palm for the first time using 15N-labeled fertilizer in pot and field experiments. The pot experiment was conducted in Japan using a 2:1 mixture of sand to Philippine soil. The field experiment was conducted in Leyte in the Philippines. Both experiments consisted of three replicates in each of three treatments: control, 15N urea at 50 kg N ha−1 and 15N urea at 100 kg N ha−1. The N uptake of sago palm increased significantly, but inconsistently with increasing N application. The few instances of a significant increase in N uptake did not translate into significant improvements in growth parameters, except for the number of leaflets in the pot experiment. The FUE values for sago seedlings (< 6 months) in the pot experiment treated with 50 and 100 kg N ha−1 were 10.5 and 13.2%, respectively, whereas for the 2-year-old sago palms in the field, the corresponding FUE values were 14.8 and 12.0%. The FUE values were similar at the two levels of N application in both experiments. Sago growth parameters appeared to be insensitive to N application, suggesting that the form of N and the timing of N fertilization are important factors for sago palms. Therefore, the use of N fertilizer in sago production can only be justified after determining and fully understanding the response of sago palm to N application.