The Open Agriculture Journal

ISSN: 1874-3315 ― Volume 14, 2020

Economic Performance and Nutrient Use Efficiency of Onion (Allium Cepa L.) Under N, K and S Nutrient Combinations in Northern Ethiopia

Teklay Tesfay1, *, Selamawit Girmay2
1 Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture, Aksum University Shire Campus, Aksum, Ethiopia
2 Department of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, Aksum University Shire Campus, Aksum, Ethiopia



Nitrogen (N), potassium (K) and sulfur (S) nutrient elements play an important role in the growth and bulb yield of onion. However, imbalanced nutrient application leads onion producers to get lower onion bulb yield. Hence, the supply of adequate and balanced plant nutrients is important in order to achieve better nutrient utilization as well as proper growth and high yield.


To evaluate the agronomic and economic performance as well as nutrient efficiency of onion in response to the combined application of nitrogen, potassium and sulfur nutrient levels.


The field experiment was conducted during 2016/17 to test agronomic, economic and nutrient use efficiency of eighteen treatment groups with the combination of three levels of N, three levels of K and two levels of S nutrient on onion using a randomized complete block design.


The combined application of N, K and S nutrient levels appreciably resulted in significant variation not only on growth and bulb yield of onion but also on the economic performance and nutrient use efficiencies. Increased growth and improved bulb yield of onion as well as better nutrient uptakes and recoveries were observed in plots treated with relatively higher NKS rates. However, enhanced Agronomic Efficiency (AE) and Partial Factor Productivity (PFP) were obtained from plots treated with no N and K nutrient applications.


Higher growth, improved bulb yield and enhanced nutrient use efficiencies (nutrient concentrations, uptakes and recoveries) were obtained from onion plants cultivated using a relatively higher NKS nutrient level. However, from the economic point of view, onion production using combined application of 69 kg N ha-1 and 15 kg S ha-1 was the most profitable, irrespective of the K level.

Keywords: Onion growth, Bulb yield, Nutrient uptake, Nutrient concentration, AE, PFP, Apparent Nutrient Recovery (ANR).

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2019
Volume: 13
First Page: 146
Last Page: 155
Publisher Id: TOASJ-13-146
DOI: 10.2174/1874331501913010146

Article History:

Received Date: 25/07/2019
Revision Received Date: 30/08/2019
Acceptance Date: 12/10/2019
Electronic publication date: 28/11/2019
Collection year: 2019

© 2019 Tesfay and Girmay

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture, Aksum University Shire Campus, P. O. BOX: +251 314, Aksum, Ethiopia; Tel: +251 914 780666; E-mails: and

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