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The Effect of Mixing Prunings of Two Tropical Shrub Legumes (Calliandra Houstoniana and Indigofera zollingeriana) with Contrasting Quality on N Release in the Soil and Apparent N Degradation in the Rumen

Abstract

Lack of synchronization between N released from prunings applied to the soil as green manures and crop uptake as well as optimization of protein digestibility for ruminants, remain major research objectives for the selection of multipurpose tree and shrub legumes (MPT) for mixed smallholder systems in the tropics. Prunings of the high tannin, low quality MPT Calliandra houstoniana CIAT 20400 (Calliandra) and the tannin free, high quality MPT Indigofera zollingeriana (Indigofera) were mixed in the proportions 100:0, 75:25, 50:50, 25:75, and 0:100 (w/w) in order to measure the aerobic rate and extent of N release in a leaching tube experiment, and the anaerobic extent of N degradation in an in vitro gas production experiment. Parameters measured in Calliandra:Indigofera mixtures were compared to theoretical values derived from single species plant material (i.e. 100:0 and 0:100). Aerobic N release and apparent anaerobic N degradation increased with increasing proportion of the high quality legume (Indigofera) in the mixture. While N release in the soil was lower than theoretical values in the mixture 50% Calliandra/50% Indigofera, this was not the case with apparent anaerobic N degradation with the same mixture. Aerobic N immobilization was more pronounced for the mixture 75% Calliandra/25% Indigofera than for 100% Calliandra and negative interaction was observed with apparent anaerobic N degradation in the mixture 75% Calliandra/25% Indigofera. Plant quality parameters that best correlated with aerobic N release and apparent anaerobic N degradation in the rumen were lignin + bound condensed tannins (r=−0.95 and −0.95 respectively, P<0.001). In addition, a positive correlation (r=0.89, P<0.001) was found between aerobic N release in the leaching tube experiment and apparent N degradation in the in vitro anaerobic gas production experiment. Results show that mixing prunings of MPT materials with contrasting quality is an effective way to modify aerobic N release pattern as well as apparent anaerobic N degradation and could possibly be applied to minimize N losses in the rumen and in the soil. In addition, apparent anaerobic N degradation was identified as good predictor of aerobic N release in the soil, which has resource saving implications when screening MTP to be used as green manures.

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Tscherning, K., Lascano, C., Barrios, E. et al. The Effect of Mixing Prunings of Two Tropical Shrub Legumes (Calliandra Houstoniana and Indigofera zollingeriana) with Contrasting Quality on N Release in the Soil and Apparent N Degradation in the Rumen. Plant Soil 280, 357–368 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-005-3505-8

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Key words

  • aerobic N mineralization
  • anaerobic N degradation
  • Calliandra houstoniana
  • Indigofera zollingeriana
  • leaching
  • rumen
  • soil