Plant available zinc is influenced by landscape position in the Amhara Region, Ethiopia
Zinc (Zn) is an important element determining the grain quality of staple food crops and deficient in many Ethiopian soils. However, farming systems are highly variable in Ethiopia due to different soil types and landscape cropping positions. Zinc availability and uptake by plants from soil and fertilizer sources are governed by the retention and release potential of the soil, usually termed as adsorption and desorption, respectively. The aim of this study was to characterize the amount of plant available Zn at different landscape positions. During the 2018/19 cropping season, adsorption-desorption studies were carried out on soil samples collected from on-farm trials conducted at Aba Gerima, Debre Mewi and Markuma in the Amhara Region. In all locations and landscape positions, adsorption and desorption increased with increasing Zn additions. The amount of adsorption and desorption was highly associated with the soil pH, the soil organic carbon concentration and cation exchange capacity, and these factors are linked to landscape positions. The Freundlich isotherm fitted very well to Zn adsorption (r2 0.87–0.99) and desorption (r2 0.92–0.99), while the Langmuir isotherm only fitted to Zn desorption (r2 0.70–0.93). Multiple regression models developed by determining the most influential soil parameters for Zn availability could be used to inform Zn fertilizer management strategies for different locations and landscape positions in this region, and thereby improve plant Zn use efficiency.