Technical Evaluation of Glauconies as Alternative Potassium Fertilizer from the Salamanca Formation, Patagonia, Southwest Argentina

Corina Franzosi, Liliana N. Castro, Ana María Celeda
Año de la publicación: 
2 014
Natural Resources Research, September 2014, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 311–320
The aim of this work was to evaluate the Salamanca Formation greensands as an alternative potassium fertilizer to KCl. Glauconitic pellets from this formation tend to naturally concentrate in 600–250 μm (BS 250) and 250–125 μm (BS 125) fractions. After dry sieving and magnetic separation, these fractions were used for chemical, lixiviation, and specific surface analyses and agronomic evaluations. Two concentrated products were obtained: GL250c (600–250 μm) and GL125c (250–125 μm) representing 40.9 % of total sample. GL250c contains 2.97 % K2O, and GL125c contains 4.05 % K2O, representing 27 and 60 % increase in K-content compared to the bulk sample. Grain size of both concentrates decreased significantly through lixiviation tests. Potassium release curves from lixiviation waters show that K-liberation from GL250c was more effective in the first 15 days but decreased after that whereas liberation from GL125c continued to increase after 15 days probably due to higher K-content (36 % higher than GL250c). Specific area could have influenced liberation rates because after leaching it increased 27 % for the finer fraction and by only 16 % for the coarser one. From agronomic assays, measured over 75 days with five harvests, the first four harvests yield best results from KCl probably due to fast K-liberation rates from the salt. However, after overall harvests, fertilization efficiency using either GL250c or GL125c was very similar to and slightly higher than KCl fertilization. As equivalent results were found using either GL250c or GL125c, sieving to obtain these fractions seems not necessary. The results indicate that greensands from the Salamanca Formation are effective slow release alternative K source for fertilizers with low cost of production and treatment compared to operation costs required for mining K soluble salts at depth.