Plant and Soil

, Volume 90, Issue 1–3, pp 303–334 | Cite as

Nitrogen fixation associated with non-legumes in agriculture

  • P. J. Dart
Nitrogen Fixation by non-legumes in Agriculture


This review examines the nitrogen cycle in upland agricultural situations where nonlegume N2-fixation is likely to be important for crop growth. Evidence for associative fixation is adduced from accumulation of N in the top 15 cm soil under grasses, from N balances for crop production obtained from both pot and field experiments, in tropical and temperate environments, measurements of nitrogen (C2H2 reduction) activity, uptake of15N2 by plants and15N isotope dilution. Factors influencing the activity such as the provision of carbon substrate by the plant and the efficiency of its utilisation by the bacteria, plant cultivar, soil moisture and N levels, and inoculation with N2-fixing bacteria are discussed. Crop responses to inoculation withAzospirillum are detailed. The breakdown of crop residues, particularly straw, can support large levels of N2-fixation. Cyanobacteria as crusts on the soil surface also fix nitrogen actively in many environments. Fixation by the nodulated, non-legume treesCasuarina andParasponia has beneficial effects in some cropping systems in Asia. I conclude that nonlegume N2-fixation makes a significant contribution to the production of some major cereal crops in both temperate and tropical environments.

Key words

Associative N2-fixation Blue-green algae Cyanobacteria N inputs for upland crops N2-fixation Non-legumes Soil N gains Straw 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. Dart
    • 1
  1. 1.Research School of Biological SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberra CityAustralia

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