Field experimentation on crops grown in soils with multiple nutrient limiting situations is a challenge in terms of cost and time. Soil testing programs are evolving towards more realistic decision support systems for nutrient recommendations. In order to identify the most limiting nutrient(s) and evaluate the effects of their applications on yield and nutrient uptake of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) on soil samples collected from Vertisols of wolaita zone. A systematic approach was used to determine the availability of nutrients in the test soils, the sorption capacities and greenhouse study was conducted to evaluate crop responses to nutrients, additions. The soil chemical analysis revealed that the amounts of total N, available P, S, Zn and Cu were deficient and K was less than three times the critical value in Vertisols. P, K, S, Zn and Cu were selected to conduct the sorption experiment. The results of the sorption experiment nutrient elements to be added to the optimum treatment were: 60 P, 48 K, 43 S, 9 Zn and 6.5 Cu mg per kg soil. Soil showed a relatively high P, Zn and Cu sorption value. The highest relative biomass yield of 37% and grain yield of 41% were obtained from optimum treatment. Significant increase of N, P, S, Zn and Cu content in shoot and grain emphasized the superiority of optimum treatment. P, S, Zn and Cu in the soil are found to be highly limiting nutrients to support chickpea growth. Therefore, external supplies of P, S, Zn and Cu fertilizers could be recommended for improving production of chickpea in the study area.
Keywords: Systematic Approach, Optimum Treatment, Grain yield, Biological yield, Nutrient Content