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DOC and DON from grass-clover - results from a field experiment

Rasmussen, Jim and Høgh-Jensen, Henning (2005) DOC and DON from grass-clover - results from a field experiment. Poster at: Cost Action 852 - Workshop, Grado, Italy, November 9-11, 2005.

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The C and N dynamics in perennial grass-clover mixtures are not fully understood although such mixtures dominate temperate grassland. The co-existence of clover and grass involves both competition for and transfer of nutrients between the species. The nutrients that are competed for and transferred may originate from leaky root systems, from a rapid turnover of the fine root systems, or from degradation of more stabile organic material.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the origin of dissolved organic C and N in perennial grass-clover mixtures. In an existing grass-clover ley, field mezotrons (cylinders with a diameter 30 cm) were installed in the spring of 2003 to depths of 20, 40 and 60 cm. Suction cups was installed beneath the mezotrons in order to sample the soil solution during the growth season. In late June 2004 cross-labelling of clover and grass populations in the mezotrons was done by leaf labelling (5 days) of either grass or clover using 15N- and 14C-labelled urea. During the following 3 months the percolating soil solution was sampled either after heavy rain or after irrigation of the mezotrons and the content 15N- and 14C-labelled compounds were determined. Leaf material was harvested at tree times during the growth season and at the end of the growth season the mezotrons was excavated and the distribution of 15N and 14C in the plants and soil determined.
14C was detected in the percolating soil solution imediately after leaf-labelling was initiated, with the highest amounts occuring from labelled grass. The peak of 14C reached the depths of 20 and 40 cm between 3-10 and 5-15 days respectively after labelling was initiated while no 14C was detected beneath the 60 cm mezotrons. The majority of 14C in soil solution was identified to be 14CO2 originating either from root respiration or from biomass respiration of 14C-labelled root parts or root exudates.
The transfer of 14C was higher from grass to clover than vice versa. This transfer of 14C properly occurs as 14CO2 exchange between the leaves or in the root zone. Transfer of 15N was highest from clover to grass, while the transfer from grass to clover was negligible. These observations confirm previous investigations of 15N transfer between grass and clover. No clear connection was found between the transfer of 14C and 15N. After excavation of the mezotrons 14C was found in higher amounts and at larger depths in the soil for grass compared to clover.
The results from this experiment point to that in a grass-clover ley carbon would primarily originate from grass and nitrogen would come from clover. The depths at which 14CO2 is found in the soil solution seem to be somewhat related to the depth of 14C-labelled root material meaning that the rooting profile of a crop influence the deposition of carbon and nitrogen in the soil matrix. These findings add significant new dimensions to our current understanding of processes governing the build up of soil fertility under grass-clover leys.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Poster
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > I.15 (NIT_GRASS) Nitrate leaching from dairy farming
Denmark > SOAR - Research School for Organic Agriculture and Food Systems
Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > I.16 (OKOVAND) Regional groundwater protection by optimised organic farming systems
Deposited By: Rasmussen, Mr. Jim
ID Code:9128
Deposited On:30 Aug 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:34
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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