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Quantitative Separation of Nitrogen and Non-Nitrogen Rotation Benefits for Maize Following Velvet Bean Under Selected Soil Management Practices


It is increasingly known that factors other than legume-fixed nitrogen contribute to rotation benefit (yield advantage of legume/cereal over cereal/cereal). The contributions of nitrogen and such other factors were quantified to guide soil fertility management in legume/cereal systems. Under greenhouse conditions, the effects of returning first crop’s residue to the soil, crop sequence (velvet/maize, maize/maize) and nitrogen-fertilizer level on yield of second maize were used to separate rotation benefits into nitrogen and non-nitrogen factors, while the corresponding effects of crop sequence, mycorrhizal inoculation and phosphorus-targeted fertilization in a parallel experiment were used to disaggregate the non-nitrogen effects. Crop residue and velvet/maize had positive effects on soil nitrogen and maize yield. Nitrogen fertilizer had optimal effects at 60 kg ha−1, while phosphorus enhanced maize yields the most when no essential nutrient was limiting. Rotation benefit was lower without (13.59%) than with (33.27%) residue. Non-nitrogen rotation benefit was 37.5%. Relative contributions of nitrogen, phosphorus, other nutrients, mycorrhiza and not-considered factors were, respectively, 34, 9, 6, 21 and 30% without residue and 68, 4, 3, 10 and 15% with residue. Crop residue management has, therefore, a strong underlying influence on legume-to-cereal rotation benefit and the relative contribution of its components.

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This work was supported by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria, through a doctoral research fellowship awarded to the first author, I. M. Uzoh.

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Correspondence to S. E. Obalum.

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Uzoh, I.M., Obalum, S.E., Igwe, C.A. et al. Quantitative Separation of Nitrogen and Non-Nitrogen Rotation Benefits for Maize Following Velvet Bean Under Selected Soil Management Practices. Agric Res 6, 378–388 (2017).

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  • Legume/cereal crop rotation
  • Legume-fixed soil nitrogen
  • Monocropping system
  • Non-nitrogen rotation benefits
  • Soil available phosphorus