Plant and Soil

, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 29–37 | Cite as

Seasonal patterns of growth and nitrogen fixation in field-grown pea

  • E. S. Jensen


The seasonal patterns of growth and symbiotic N2 fixation under field conditions were studied by growth analysis and use of15N-labelled fertilizer in a determinate pea cultivar (Pisum sativum L.) grown for harvest at the dry seed stage.

The patterns of fertilizer N-uptake were almost identical in pea and barley (the non-fixing reference crop), but more fertilizer-N was recovered in barley than in pea. The estimated rate of N2 fixation in pea gradually increased during the pre-flowering and flowering growth stages and reached a maximum of 10 kg N fixed per ha per day nine to ten weeks after seedling emergence. This was the time of early pod-development (flat pod growth stage) and also the time for maximum crop growth rate and maximum green leaf area index. A steep drop in N2 fixation rate occurred during the following week. This drop was simultaneous with lodging of the crop, pod-filling (round pod growth stage) and the initiation of mobilization of nitrogen from vegetative organs. The application of fertilizer-N inhibited the rate of N2 fixation only during that period of growth, when the main part of fertilizer-N was taken up and shortly after. Total accumulation of fixed nitrogen was estimated to be 244, 238 and 213 kg N ha−1 in pea supplied with nil, 25 or 50 kg NO 3 −N ha−1, respectively. About one-fourth of total N2 fixation was carried out during preflowering, one fourth during the two weeks of flowering and the remainder during post-flowering. About 55% of the amount of N present in pods at maturity was estimated to be derived from mobilization of N from vegetative organs. “Starter” N (25 or 50 kg NO 3 −N ha−1) did not significantly influence either dry matter and nitrogen accumulation or the development of leaf area. Neither root length and root biomass determined 8 weeks after seedling emergence nor the yield of seed dry matter and nitrogen at maturity were influenced by fertilizer application.

Key words

assimilate partitioning growth analysis leaf area nitrate nitrogen fixation 15N isotope dilution pea Pisum sativum 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. S. Jensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Agricultural Research DepartmentRisø National LaboratoryRoskildeDenmark

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