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Tillage, crop residue and crop sequence effects on nitrogen availability in a legume-based cropping system

Tillage, crop residue and crop sequence effects on nitrogen availability in a legume-based cropping system

Canadian Journal of Soil Science 84(4): 421-430

A field study was conducted to determine the effects and interactions of crop sequence, tillage and residue management on labile N pools and their availability because such information is sparse. Experimental treatments were no-till (NT) vs. conventional tillage (CT), and removal vs. retention of straw, imposed on a barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)-canola (Brassica rapa L.)-field pea (Pisum sativum L.) rotation. (15)N-labelling was used to quantify N uptake from straw, below-ground N (BGN), and fertilizer N. Straw retention increased soil microbial biomass N (MBN) in 2 of 3 yr at the four-leaf growth stage of barley, consistent with observed decreases in extractable soil inorganic N at seeding. However, crop yield and N uptake at maturity were not different between straw treatments. No tillage increased soil MBN, crop yield and N uptake compared to CT, but had no effect on extractable soil inorganic N. The greater availability of N under NT was probably related to soil moisture conservation. Tillage effects on soil and plant N were mostly independent of straw treatment. Straw and tillage treatments did not influence the uptake of N from its various sources. However, barley following pea (legume/non-legume sequence) derived a greater proportion of its N from BGN (13 to 23% or 9 to 23 kg N ha(-1)) than canola following barley (non-legumes) (6 to 16% or 3 to 9 kg N ha(-1)). Fertilizer N constituted 8 to 11% of barley N uptake and 23 to 32% of canola N uptake. Straw N contributed only 1 to 3% of plant N uptake. This study showed the dominant influence of tillage on N availability, and of the preceding crop or cropping sequence on N uptake partitioning among available N sources.

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Accession: 066188708

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DOI: 10.4141/s04-023

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