, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 19–35 | Cite as

Effects of nitrogen: phosphorus supply ratios on nitrogen fixation in agricultural and pastoral ecosystems

  • Val H. Smith


An analysis of data compiled from the literature confirms a strong inverse relationship between annual rates of nitrogen fixation and the soil nitrogen content in agricultural and pastoral ecosystems. However, this inverse relationship is strongly modified by the rate of application of phosphorus fertilizer, which strongly influences the activities of both symbiotic and non-symbiotic nitrogen fixing organisms. In the case of symbiotic legumes, the response of N-fixation to N and P is in part a result of changes in legume dominance within the plant community. These results, as well as supporting data presented from a review of experiments on nitrogen fixation in a variety of other terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, provide important support for the hypothesis that phosphorus availability is a key regulator of nitrogen biogeochemistry.

Key words

Dinitrogen fixation nitrogen phosphorus competition legumes 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Val H. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Station de Biologie des Laurentides, Département de Sciences biologiquesUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

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