Fertilizer research

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 1–8 | Cite as

Nitrogen fertilizer in leucaena alley cropping. II. residual value of nitrogen fertilizer and leucaena residues

  • Z. H. Xu
  • R. J. K. Myers
  • P. G. Saffigna
  • A. L. Chapman


Legume residues have been credited with supplying mineral nitrogen (N) to the associated cereal crop and improving soil fertility in the long term. Few studies using15N have reported the fate of legume N and fertilizer N in the presence of legume residues in soil-plant systems over periods of two years or longer. A field experiment was conducted in microplots to evaluate: (1) the residual value of the15N added in leucaena residues; (2) the residual value of fertilizer15N applied in the presence of unlabelled leucaena residues in the first year to maize over three subsequent years; and (3) the long-term fate of residual fertilizer and leucaena15N in a leucaena alley cropping system.

There was a significant increase in maize production over three subsequent years after addition of leucaena residues. The residual effect of fertilizer N increased maize yield in the second year when N fertilizer was applied at 36 kg N ha−1 in the first year in the presence of leucaena residues. Of the leucaena15N applied in the first year, the second, third and fourth maize crop recovered 2.6%, 1.8% and 1.4%, respectively. The corresponding values for the residual fertilizer15N were 0.7%, 0.4% and 0.3%. About 12–14% of the fertilizer15N added in the first year was found in the 200 cm soil profile over the following three years. This differed from the 38–41% of leucaena15N detected in the soil over the same period. Most of the residual fertilizer and leucaena15N in the soil was immobilized in the top 25 cm with less than 1% leached below 100 cm. More than 36% of the leucaena15N and fertilizer15N added in the first year was apparently lost from the soil-plant system in the first two years. No further loss of the residual leucaena and fertilizer15N was detected after two years.

Key words

leucaena maize 15N recovery residual15


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Z. H. Xu
    • 1
  • R. J. K. Myers
    • 2
  • P. G. Saffigna
    • 1
  • A. L. Chapman
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Environmental SciencesGriffith UniversityAustralia
  2. 2.Division of Tropical Crops and PasturesCSIROAustralia
  3. 3.Tropical Ecosystems Research CentreCSIRODarwinAustralia

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