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Estimating legume N2 fixation in a grass-clover mixture of grazed organic cropping systems using two 15N methods.

Vinther, Finn P. and Jensen, Erik S. (2000) Estimating legume N2 fixation in a grass-clover mixture of grazed organic cropping systems using two 15N methods. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 78, pp. 139-147.

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The input of N through symbiotic N2 fixation (SNF) in grass-clover mixtures was determined in an organic cropping system for grazing during three years. The mixture of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) was established by undersowing in spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and maintained subsequently for two production years. Dinitrogen fixation was determined using the 15N isotope dilution techniques and two labelling procedures. Using either pre-labelling of the soil with immobilisation of the 15N by addition of a carbon source before establishment of the grass-clover mixture or adding the 15N labelled ammonium to the established crop, resulted in similar estimates of the proportion of N derived from the atmosphere (pNdfa). However, the average coefficient of variance of the pNdfa values were significantly lower with the pre-labelling immobilisation method. The proportion of fixed N in the clover varied between 0.70 and 0.99 with the lowest values in the beginning and at the end of the growing season. The total amount of N fixed in the above-ground plant parts of the grass-clover mixture varied between 10.0 and 23.5 g N m-2 yr-1. The total input from N2 fixation in the rotation was between 30 and 50 g N m-2 yr-1 (above-ground plant parts only). This variation could be ascribed to differences in climatic conditions during the three years. The amount of N in grass-clover residues incorporated in the soil after the second production year ranged between 19.6 and 29.6 g N m-2, of which 52-66% was estimated to be derived from fixation. The amount of atmospherically derived N actually entering the soil in the grazed cropping system is discussed.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Dinitrogen fixation; 15N isotope dilution; Ryegrass-clover mixtures; 15N immobilisation method
Subjects: Soil > Nutrient turnover
Soil > Soil quality
Soil > Soil quality > Soil biology
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Pasture and forage crops
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF I (1996-2001) > I.2 Nitrogen fixation, recycling and leaching in organic cropping systems
Deposited By: Vinther, Senior scientist Finn P.
ID Code:167
Deposited On:11 Oct 2002
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:27
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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