Plant and Soil

, Volume 364, Issue 1–2, pp 81–91 | Cite as

The effect of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration on the contribution of residual legume and fertilizer nitrogen to a subsequent wheat crop

  • Shu Kee Lam
  • Deli Chen
  • Rob Norton
  • Roger Armstrong
Regular Article



This study investigated the residual contribution of legume and fertilizer nitrogen (N) to a subsequent crop under the effect of elevated carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]).


Field pea (Pisum sativum L.) was labeled in situ with 15N (by absorption of a 15N-labeled urea solution through cut tendrils) under ambient and elevated (700 μmol mol–1) [CO2] in controlled environment glasshouse chambers. Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and its soil were also labeled under the same conditions by addition of 15N-enriched urea to the soil. Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was subsequently grown to physiological maturity on the soil containing either 15N-labeled field pea residues (including 15N-labeled rhizodeposits) or 15N-labeled barley plus fertilizer 15N residues.


Elevated [CO2] increased the total biomass of field pea (21 %) and N-fertilized barley (23 %), but did not significantly affect the biomass of unfertilized barley. Elevated [CO2] increased the C:N ratio of residues of field pea (18 %) and N-fertilized barley (19 %), but had no significant effect on that of unfertilized barley. Elevated [CO2] increased total biomass (11 %) and grain yield (40 %) of subsequent wheat crop regardless of rotation type in the first phase. Irrespective of [CO2], the grain yield and total N uptake by wheat following field pea were 24 % and 11 %, respectively, higher than those of the wheat following N-fertilized barley. The residual N contribution from field pea to wheat was 20 % under ambient [CO2], but dropped to 11 % under elevated [CO2], while that from fertilizer did not differ significantly between ambient [CO2] (4 %) and elevated [CO2] (5 %).


The relative value of legume derived N to subsequent cereals may be reduced under elevated [CO2]. However, compared to N fertilizer application, legume incorporation will be more beneficial to grain yield and N supply to subsequent cereals under future (elevated [CO2]) climates.


Elevated [CO215N labeling Below-ground legume N Residual legume N Residual fertilizer N 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shu Kee Lam
    • 1
  • Deli Chen
    • 1
  • Rob Norton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roger Armstrong
    • 3
  1. 1.Melbourne School of Land and EnvironmentThe University of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.International Plant Nutrition InstituteHorshamAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Primary IndustriesHorshamAustralia

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