Fertilization requirement for Pigeon Pea

Fertilization of Pigeon Pea
Pigeon pea
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To achieve optimal yields and quality in pigeon pea cultivation, it is essential to understand and satisfy the crop’s nutrient requirements. This article provides a comprehensive guide to fertilizing pigeon pea crops for maximum productivity and sustainability.

Fertilizer Application Timing – When to fertilize your pigeon pea plants

Proper timing of fertilizer application is crucial to ensure that pigeon pea receives the nutrients it needs at the proper growth stages. Here’s a general guideline for fertilizer application timing:

  1. Pre-planting: Before sowing pigeon pea seeds, applying phosphorus and potassium fertilizers based on soil test results is recommended. This provides a strong foundation for early root development.
  2. Split Application: Nitrogen fertilizers can be applied in split doses to meet the crop’s changing nutrient demands. A portion of the nitrogen can be applied at planting, and the rest can be applied during the vegetative and flowering stages.
  3. Top-Dressing: If needed, a top-dressing of nitrogen fertilizer can be applied during the flowering stage to support pod development and seed formation.
  4. Micronutrient Application: Micronutrients can be applied if soil tests reveal deficiencies or when visual symptoms of nutrient deficiencies are observed during crop growth.

Understanding Pigeon Pea Nutrient Requirements

Before diving into the specifics of fertilizing pigeon pea, it’s crucial to understand the nutrient requirements of this leguminous crop. Pigeon pea has specific demands for essential nutrients, varying depending on soil types and local conditions. The primary nutrients required by pigeon peas are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), often referred to as NPK.

  1. Nitrogen (N):Nitrogen is essential for vegetative growth and overall plant development. Pigeon pea can fix atmospheric nitrogen through a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its root nodules. Therefore, pigeon pea generally requires less external nitrogen fertilizer inputs than other crops. However, a moderate application of nitrogen fertilizer may be beneficial, especially in nitrogen-deficient soils.
  2. Phosphorus (P): Phosphorus is crucial in root development, flowering, and seed formation. Adequate phosphorus is essential for pigeon pea to achieve good yields and quality. Soil testing can help determine the phosphorus content and the appropriate amount of fertilizer to apply.
  3. Potassium (K):Potassium is vital for disease resistance, water uptake, and overall plant health. Pigeon pea requires potassium for optimal growth and yield. Potassium deficiency can lead to reduced yields and increased susceptibility to diseases.
  4. Sulfur (S):Sulfur is essential for protein synthesis and nitrogen fixation. The recommended sulfur fertilizer application rate for pigeon pea is approximately 20 kg/ha. This can be applied as a basal dose at the time of sowing.

In addition to nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur, pigeon peas may also require other nutrients, such as zinc, iron, and magnesium. The need for these nutrients will depend on the soil type and the variety of pigeon pea being grown.

The best way to determine the fertilizer requirements for pigeon pea cultivation is to have the soil tested. A soil test will measure the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and other nutrients in the soil. The recommended appropriate fertilizer application rate for a pigeon pea crop is:

  • Rainfed: 25- 30Kg N + 40 Kg P + 30 kg K+ 10 kg S/ha
  • Irrigated : 25 Kg N + 50 Kg P+ 25 Kg K+ 20 Kg S/ha

“ S” (Sulfur) is applied in the form of gypsum if Single Super Phosphate (SSP) is not used as a source of phosphorus.

Zn application: Soil application of 25 kg ZnSo4/ha under irrigated condition

Micronutrients application: Soil application of micronutrient @ 5kg/ha as Enriched FYM

Here are some additional tips for fertilizing pigeon peas:

  • Apply fertilizer before the onset of the rainy season. This will help to prevent the leaching of nutrients into the groundwater.
  • Avoid applying fertilizer too close to the plant stems. This can burn the plants.
  • Incorporate fertilizer into the soil to a depth of 5-10 cm. This will help to prevent nutrient loss due to volatilization.
  • Water the soil well after applying fertilizer. This will help to dissolve the fertilizer and make it available to the plants.

By following these tips, you can help to ensure that the pigeon pea crop gets the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Choosing the Right Fertilizer Types for Pigeon peas

Selecting the appropriate types of fertilizers is essential for meeting the specific nutrient needs of pigeon pea. Here are some common fertilizer types used in pigeon pea cultivation:

  1. Nitrogen Fertilizers: Common nitrogen fertilizers include urea and ammonium sulfate. However, as mentioned earlier, pigeon pea has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen through its symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Therefore, excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided to prevent oversupply of nitrogen.
  2. Phosphorus Fertilizers: Phosphorus fertilizers like diammonium phosphate (DAP) or triple superphosphate (TSP) are commonly used to supply phosphorus to pigeon pea crops.
  3. Potassium Fertilizers: Potassium can be supplied through potassium chloride or potassium sulfate fertilizers. The choice of potassium fertilizer depends on soil test results and local availability.
  4. Organic Matter: Incorporating organic matter, such as well-rotted compost or farmyard manure, into the soil can improve soil fertility and nutrient retention, reducing the reliance on synthetic fertilizers.
  5. Micronutrient Fertilizers: Micronutrient deficiencies can be addressed with specific micronutrient fertilizers or through foliar sprays of micronutrient solutions.

Dosage and Application Methods of Fertilizers in Pigeon pea

The dosage and application methods for fertilizers should be determined based on soil test results and local recommendations. However, here are some general guidelines for pigeon pea fertilization:

  1. Broadcasting: Broadcasting fertilizers evenly over the entire field before planting is a common method for applying phosphorus and potassium. It ensures that these nutrients are available to the developing root system.
  2. Banding: Nitrogen fertilizers can be banded in rows near the planting line to promote early root growth and reduce nitrogen loss through volatilization.
  3. Side-Dressing: A side-dressing of nitrogen fertilizer can be applied during the vegetative stage to support plant growth. Be cautious not to damage the plant’s root system when side-dressing.
  4. Foliar Feeding: In cases of severe nutrient deficiencies, micronutrients can be applied as foliar sprays to provide a quick nutrient boost directly to the plant’s leaves.

Fertilizer management is a critical aspect of successful pigeon pea cultivation. Proper nutrient supply at the right growth stages ensures healthy growth, high yields, and good-quality pigeon pea crops. To achieve this, it’s essential to understand the specific nutrient requirements of pigeon pea, perform soil testing, choose the right types of fertilizers, and apply them using appropriate methods and timings. By following these guidelines, farmers can optimize their pigeon pea cultivation practices, increase productivity, and contribute to food security and nutrition in their regions.


Pigeonpea Production Technology. Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare. Directorate of Pulses Development, Bhopal (M.P.)


Pigeonpea Botany and Production Practices. Compiled by Faujdar Singh and D.L. Oswalt. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Patancheru, India.

Kulkarni, S., Rao, K.N., Ravi, M.V., Veeresh, H., Desai B.K., and Mahadevaswamy, 2020. Growth and Yield of Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.) as influenced by different nutrient management approaches. Intl.J. curr. Microbiology and Applied Sciences. Vol 9(1).

Further reading

Pigeon pea: Plant information, History, and Nutrition

Principles of selecting the best varieties and hybrids for Pigeon pea cultivation

Pigeon pea Soil requirement, Soil preparation and Plant density

Irrigation requirement for Pigeon pea Cultivation

Fertilization requirement for Pigeon Pea

Weed Management in Pigeon Pea Farming

Pigeon pea Diseases and Management Practices

Pigeon pea insect pests and their management 

Harvesting, Drying, Processing, and Storage of Pigeon pea


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