Growth and rhizosphere P pools of legume–wheat rotations at low P supply
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Legume pre-crops may increase P uptake of the following wheat, but the mechanisms behind this effect are unclear. A rotation study was carried out to assess the concentrations of rhizosphere P pools of three grain legumes and wheat (phase 1) and their effects on P uptake and P pools in the rhizosphere of the following wheat (phase 2). Faba bean, chickpea, white lupin and wheat were grown for 10 weeks in a loamy sand soil with low P availability. The following wheat was grown in the pre-crop soil with and without addition of pre-crop residues. Among the pre-crops, white lupin had the strongest effect on the P pools; it depleted the labile P pools, resin P and NaHCO3-Pi and also the less labile P pools, NaOH-Pi and residual P; whereas the concentration of NaHCO3-Po was higher than that in the rhizosphere of the other pre-crops. White lupin had a smaller biomass compared to faba bean which depleted the P pools to a lesser extent. Phosphorus uptake of the following wheat was greatest in white lupin pre-crop soil. Chickpea increased P uptake of the following wheat when residues were added. In the presence of residues, wheat after legumes depleted labile P pools to a greater extent than wheat after wheat, but this coincided with greater P uptake only in wheat after chickpea and white lupin, which may be explained by the small root biomass of wheat after faba bean. The results show that the greater P uptake of the following wheat induced by pre-crops may be due to two mechanisms: P mobilisation (white lupin) or P addition with legume residues (chickpea). This study further showed that P uptake by a crop is only partly a function of the depletion of P in the rhizosphere; another important factor is the ability to exploit a large soil volume.
KeywordsCrop rotation Grain legumes P fractionation P uptake Pre-crops Wheat
We thank Mr Colin Rivers for his help in collecting soil. The research was supported by the Australian Research Council and The University of Adelaide. HMH acknowledges the support from the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia and University Sains Malaysia for her studies.
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