Role of Soil Phosphorus on Legume Production

  • Tarik Mitran
  • Ram Swaroop Meena
  • Rattan Lal
  • Jayanta Layek
  • Sandeep Kumar
  • Rahul Datta


Legumes play a significant role in sustainable agriculture through their ability to improve soil fertility and health. Legumes, with a mutual symbiotic relationship with some bacteria in soil, can improve nitrogen (N) amount through biological N-fixation (BNF). But to maximize such functions, legumes need more phosphorus (P) as it is required for energy transformation in nodules. Besides, P also plays a significant role to root development, nutrient uptake, and growth of legume crops. But most of the agricultural soils have inadequate amounts of P to support efficient BNF as it exists in stable chemical compounds which are least available to plants. The deficiency of P causes significant yield reduction in leguminous crops. The mineral P sources are nonrenewable, unlike N. So there is a need to enhance P use efficiency (PUE) for better legume productivity and soil sustainability. Improving the PUE of applied fertilizer requires enhanced P acquisition from the soils by crops for growth and development. It is necessary to better exploit soil P resources through increasing labile soil P using leguminous crops in a rotation cycle. Moreover, incorporation of legumes in cropping system with better P management under P-deficient conditions could be a promising tool for improving legume productivity. Endowed with inherent potential PUE, deep root system, root exudate-mediated P-solubilization, and nutrient-rich residues, legumes can improve soil fertility and enhance the soil profile and efficient nutrient cycling. The data obtained from various research studies show that agriculturally important legumes can fix 40–60 million metric tons of N annually. In view of this importance of P, this chapter emphasizes on the PUE and its role in legume production for food security programs, soil sustainability, and management.


Biological nitrogen fixation Legume Nodulation Phosphorus 



Adenosine diphosphate


Adenosine triphosphate


Biological nitrogen fixation


Integrated nutrient management


Monoammonium phosphate




Organic matter




Phosphorus solubilizing bacteria


Phosphorus use efficiency


Sustainable integrated farming systems


Soil organic matter


Soluble organic phosphorus



The first author is greatly thankful to Science and Engineering Research Board and Indo-US Science and Technology Forum of India for providing SERB INDO-US fellowship and Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, the Ohio State University, USA, for necessary help and support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tarik Mitran
    • 2
    • 1
  • Ram Swaroop Meena
    • 3
  • Rattan Lal
    • 2
  • Jayanta Layek
    • 4
    • 5
  • Sandeep Kumar
    • 6
  • Rahul Datta
    • 7
  1. 1.Soil and Land Resources Assessment divisionNRSC, ISROHyderabadIndia
  2. 2.Carbon Management and Sequestration CentreThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of AgronomyInstitute of Agricultural Sciences (BHU)VaranasiIndia
  4. 4.Division of Crop ProductionICAR Research Complex for NEH RegionUmiamIndia
  5. 5.Carbon Management and Sequestration CentreThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  6. 6.Department of AgronomyCCS Haryana Agricultural UniversityHisarIndia
  7. 7.Department of Geology and PedologyMendel UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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