Plant and Soil

, Volume 98, Issue 2, pp 265–274 | Cite as

Species variation in the fixation and transfer of nitrogen from legumes to associated grasses

  • T. C. Ta
  • M. A. Faris
Article

Summary

Three legume species (alfalfa, red clover, and birdsfoot trefoil) in combination with five grass species (timothy, bromegrass, red fescue, tall fescue, and orchardgrass) were used to study N transfer in mixtures, using the 15N dilution technique. The advantage of grass-legume mixtures was apparent. Total herbage and protein yields of grasses in mixtures were higher than those alone, especially at the later cuts. This benefit of mixed cropping is mainly due to N transfer from legumes to associated grasses. N2-fixation and N transfer by alfalfa rated highest, red clover intermediate, and birdsfoot trefoil lowest. The importance of each pathway of N transfer from legumes appeared to differ between species. Alfalfa and red clover excreted more N than trefoil, while the latter contributed more N from decomposition of dead nodule and root tissue. The greatest advantage from a grass-legume mixture, with respect to the utilization of N released from the legume, varied with early maturing tall fescue (Kentucky 31), orchardgrass (Juno), and bromegrass (Tempo), to intermediate timothy (Climax), and least with late maturing red fescue (Carlawn).

Key words

Alfalfa Birdsfoot trefoil Bromegrass Nitrogen fixation Nitrogen transfer Orchardgrass Red clover Red fescue Tall fescue Timothy 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Agboola A A and Fayemi A A A 1972 Fixation and excretion of nitrogen by tropical legumes. Agron. J. 64, 409–412.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bergersen F J and Turner G L 1983 An evaluation of15N methods for estimating nitrogen fixation in a subterranean clover-perennial ryegrass sward. Aust. J. Agric. Res. 34, 391–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bowren K E, Cooke D A and Downey R K 1968 Yield of dry matter and nitrogen from tops and roots of sweetclover, alfalfa and red clover at five stages of growth. Can. J. Plant Sci. 49, 61–68.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bremmer J M and Mulvaney C S 1982 Nitrogen- Total.In Methods of Soil Analysis. Ed. A L Page. Am. Soc. Agron. Inc. Publisher Madison, pp 595–624.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Broadbent F E, Nakashima T and Chang G Y 1982 Estimation of nitrogen fixation by isotope dilution in field and greenhouse experiments. Agron. J. 74, 625–628.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Butler G W, Greenwood R W and Soper K 1959 Effects of shading and defoliation on the turnover of root and nodule tissue of plants ofTrifolium repense, Trifolium pratense, andLotus uliginosus. N. Z. J. Agric. Res. 2, 415–426.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Chestnutt D M B 1972 The effects of white clover and applied nitrogen on nitrogen content of various grass/clover mixtures. J. Br. Grassld. Soc. 27, 211–216.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Chujo H and Daimon H 1984 Plant growth and fate of nitrogen in mixed cropping, intercropping and crop rotation. I. Growth acceleration of some temperate grasses in early stage of mixed cropping with red clover. J. Crop Sci. 53, 213–221.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Craig L A, Wiebold W J and McIntosh M S 1981 Nitrogen fixation rates of alfalfa and red clover grown in mixture with grasses. Agron. J. 73, 996–998.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Dilz K and Mulder E G 1962 Effect of associated growth on yield and nitrogen content of legume and grass plants. Plant and Soil 16, 229–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Dubbs A L 1971 Competition between grass and legume species on dryland. Agron. J. 63, 359–362.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Eaglesham A R J, Ayabana A, Ranga Rao V and Eskew D L 1981 Improving the nitrogen nutrition of maize by intercropping with cowpea. Soil Biol. Biochem. 13, 169–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Faris M A and Ta T C 1985 Study of nitrogen transfer from alfalfa to associated timothy under field conditions.In Proceedings of the 15th International Grassland Congress Kyoto Japan. 24–31 August 1985. Paper 4-0-2.4.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fielder R and Proksh G 1975 The determination of nitrogen15N by emission and mass spectrometry in biochemical analysis: a review. Anal. Chem. Acta. 78, 1–62.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hamilton R I, Scholl J M and Pope A L 1969 Performance of three grass species grown alone and with alfalfa under intensive pasture management: Animal and plant response. Agron. J. 61, 357–361.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Haynes R J 1980 Competitive aspects of the grass-legume association. Adv. Agron. 33, 227–261.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Haystead A and Marriott C 1978 Fixation and transfer of nitrogen in a white clover-grass sward under hill conditions. Ann. Appl. Biol. 88, 453–457.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Heichel G H, Barnes D K, Vance C P and Henjum K I 1984 N2 fixation, and N and dry matter partitioning during a 4-year alfalfa stand. Crop Sci. 24, 811–815.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Henzell E F 1962 Nitrogen fixation and transfer by some tropical and temperate pasture legumes in sand culture. Aust. J. Exp. Agric. Anim. Husb. 2, 132–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kilcher M R and Heinrichs D H 1958 The performance of three grasses when grown alone, in mixture with alfalfa, and in alternate rows with alfalfa. Can. J. Plant. Sci. 38, 252–258.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    LaRue T A and Patterson T G 1981 How much nitrogen do legumes fix? Adv. Agron. 34, 15–38.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    McCloud D E and Mott G O 1953 Influence of association upon the forage yield of legume-grass mixtures. Agron. J. 45, 61–65.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Vallis I, Haydock K P, Ross P J and Henzell E F 1967 Isotopic studies on the uptake of nitrogen by pasture plants. III. The uptake of small additions of 15N-labelled fertilizer by rhodes grass and townsville lecerne. Aust. J. Agric. Res. 18, 865–877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Vallis I 1978 Nitrogen relationships in grass/legume mixtures.In Plant Relationships in Pastures. Ed. J R Wilson. CSIRO, pp 190–201.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Vance C P, Heichel G H, Barnes D K, Bryan J W and Johnson L E B 1979 Nitrogen fixation, nodule development, and vegetative regrowth of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) following harvest. Plant Physiol. 64, 1–8.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Whitehead D C 1970 The role of nitrogen in grassland productivity, Bull 48 CAB, 202 pp.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Whitney A S and Kanchiro Y 1967 Pathways of nitrogen transfer in some tropical legume-grass associations. Agron. J. 59, 585–568.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wilson J K 1942 The loss of nodules from legume roots and its significance. J. Am. Soc. Agron. 34, 460–471.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. C. Ta
    • 1
  • M. A. Faris
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Research CentreAgriculture CanadaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations