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Dynamics of phosphorus fractions during fallow with natural vegetation and planted Pueraria phaseoloides in south-western Nigeria

Abstract

A study was conducted in 1998 and 1999 on a long-term fallow management trial, established in 1989 at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, in the derived savanna of southwestern Nigeria, to quantify P fractions under natural fallow (NF) and a Pueraria cover crop fallow. Plots with previous 1:1, 1:2, and 1:3 crop/fallow ratios before reverting to fallow in either 1998 or 1999 were considered. Biomass accumulation under the two fallow types was comparable and increased linearly with fallow age, reaching slightly above 7 t dry matter ha−1 after 8 months of fallow. Phosphorus accumulation in the fallow vegetation ranged from 2.1 – 9.1 kg ha−1 for natural fallow (NF) and from 1.5 – 6.6 kg ha−1 for Pueraria. Magnesium was also higher under NF (9.1 – 21 kg ha−1) than under Pueraria (4.4 – 13 kg ha−1), whereas N, Ca, and K contents were higher in Pueraria biomass than under NF at 1 year after fallow. Pueraria fallow tended to lower soil pH compared with NF. However, plots with less frequent cropping (1:3 crop/fallow ratio) did not have significantly different pH irrespective of the fallow vegetation type. Olsen extractable soil P increased as fallow length increased irrespective of the fallow system and previous crop/fallow ratio. For example, under NF (0–5 cm depth, 1:1 crop/fallow ratio in1998) Olsen P increased from 12 mg kg−1 to 17 mg kg−1 after 1 year of fallow and under Pueraria, it increased from 8 mg kg−1 to 15 mg kg−1. Fallow type and previous crop/fallow ratio had no significant and consistent effects on soil P fractions. However, NaOH- and concentrated HCl- extractable organic P fractions increased with fallow length. In 1998, under NF, NaOH- extractable organic P increased from 12 to 21 mg kg−1 (1:1 crop/fallow ratio) and from 10 to 19 mg kg−1 for both 1:2 and 1:3 crop/fallow ratio. HCl- extractable organic P increased from 11 to 30 mg kg−1 (1:1 crop/fallow ratio), from 13 to 27 mg kg−1 (1:2 crop/fallow ratio) and from 18 to 35 mg kg−1 (1:3 crop/fallow ratio). Similar trend was observed under Pueraria fallow. These results suggest that P was reallocated to non-readily available organic P fractions irrespective of fallow type and previous land use. These organic P fractions, which are usually more stable, reflect the overall change in soil organic P levels when the soil was stressed by cultivation and then reverted to fallow. These pools may thus represent an active reservoir (source and sink) of P in shifting cultivation under tropical conditions without inorganic fertilizer application.

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Correspondence to G.O. Kolawole.

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Kolawole, G., Tian, G. & Tijani-Eniola, H. Dynamics of phosphorus fractions during fallow with natural vegetation and planted Pueraria phaseoloides in south-western Nigeria. Plant and Soil 257, 63–70 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1026283025527

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  • crop/fallow ratio
  • fallow biomass production
  • fallowing
  • fallow systems
  • phosphorus fractions