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Barley undersown with red clover in organic and conventional systems: nitrogen aftereffect on legume growth

Alaru, Marika; Talgre, Liina; Luik, Anne; Tein, Berit; Eremeev, Viacheslav and Loit, Evelin (2017) Barley undersown with red clover in organic and conventional systems: nitrogen aftereffect on legume growth. Zemdirbyste-Agriculture, 104 (2), pp. 131-138.

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Nitrogen (N) deficiency is a major problem in organic and low-input farming systems. Growing spring cereals with
undersown legumes has a positive effect on soil fertility, enriching it with nitrogen, through symbiosis of legumes
with nodule bacteria. Two hypotheses were tested: 1) undersowing of red clover increases the protein content of
barley grains and 2) mineral N has negative aftereffect on growth of legume plants. The aim of this study was to
investigate the effect of organic (cattle manure, off-season cover crop) and mineral N in organic and conventional
farming systems on (i) barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) grain yield and quality, (ii) biomass yield formation of
undersown red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) and (iii) the aftereffect of mineral and organic N fertilisers on the red
clover crop biomass yield in the following year. The experiment was established in 2008 at the Estonian University
of Life Sciences (58°22ʹ N, 26°40ʹ E) on the soil described as Stagnic Albic Luvisol (LV ab-st) (WRB, 2014) with
sandy loam surface texture, 1.38% C, 0.13% N, 133 mg kg-1 P, 210 mg kg-1 K and pHKCl 6.0. The crops were treated
using different farming systems: three organic (Org0, OrgI and OrgII) and four conventional (N0, N40, N80 and
N120); nitrogen sources during crop cycle period: N0 and Org0 = symbiotically fixed atmospheric N2, N40 = N2
+ mineral N 40 kg ha-1 N, N80 = N2 + mineral N 80 kg ha-1 N, N120 = N2 + mineral N 120 kg ha-1 N, OrgI = N2
+ N taken up by cover crops (NCC) and OrgII = N2 + NCC + N applied with manure (Nm). Our study revealed that
grain yield of barley was strongly affected by undersown red clover; because of competition for nutrients in cereallegume
mixture the grain yield of barley in organic system was 11‒61% lower than that in conventional system.
The seed rate of undersown red clover (2.84 million viable seed per ha) was too high. The content of protein
depended on the availability of mineralised nitrogen. The mean protein content of barley grains over the trial years
and treatments was 99 ± 1.6 g kg-1 in the conventional system, which was 17% higher than that in the organic
system. Undersowing of red clover had no significantly positive effect on the grain yield and protein content of
barley. Mineral N fertiliser had no negative aftereffect on growth of the red clover crop the following year. Mean
above ground biomass yield over the trial years for the red clover crop 2nd cut was 17% higher in the conventional
system than in the organic system.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:competition for nutrients, protein content of cereal, sowing rate and time.
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Farming Systems
Soil > Nutrient turnover
Crop husbandry
Crop husbandry > Soil tillage
Research affiliation: Estonia > Estonian University of Life Sciences
European Union > CORE Organic Plus > FertilCrop
ISSN:1392-3196 / e-ISSN 2335-8947
Deposited By: Peetsmann, Ms Elen
ID Code:32508
Deposited On:04 Jan 2018 00:52
Last Modified:04 Jan 2018 00:52
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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