Legume, cropping intensity, and N-fertilization effects on soil attributes and processes from an eight-year-old semiarid wheat system
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In the North American northern Great Plains (NGP), legumes are promising summer fallow replacement/cropping intensification options that may decrease dependence on nitrogen (N) fertilizer in small grain systems and mitigate effects of soil organic matter (SOM) losses from summer fallow. Benefits may not be realized immediately in semiarid conditions though, and longer-term effects of legumes and intensified cropping in this region are unclear, particularly in no-till systems. We compared effects of four no-till wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cropping systemsâ€“summer fallowâ€“wheat (Fâ€“W), continuous wheat (CW), legume green manure (pea, Pisum sativum L.)â€”wheat (LGMâ€“W), and peaâ€“wheat (Pâ€“W)â€”on select soil attributes in an 8-year-old rotation study, and N fertilizer effects on C and N mineralization on a duplicate soil set in a laboratory experiment. We analyzed potentially mineralizable carbon and nitrogen (PMC and PMN) and mineralization trends with a nonlinear model, microbial biomass carbon (MB-C), and wet aggregate stability (WAS). Legume-containing systems generally resulted in higher PMC, PMN, and MB-C, while intensified systems (CW and Pâ€“W) had higher WAS. Half-lives of PMC were shortest in intensified systems, and were longest in legume systems (LGMâ€“W and Pâ€“W) for PMN. Nitrogen addition depressed C and N mineralization, particularly in CW, and generally shortened the half-life of mineralizable C. Legumes may increase long-term, no-till NGP agroecosystem resilience and sustainability by (1) increasing the available N-supply (~26â€“50 %) compared to wheat-only systems, thereby reducing the need for N fertilizer for subsequent crops, and (2) by potentially mitigating negative effects of SOM loss from summer fallow.
O'Dea, Justin K., Clain A. Jones, Catherine A. Zabinski, Perry R. Miller, and Ilai N. Keren. "Legume, cropping intensity, and N-fertilization effects on soil attributes and processes from an eight-year-old semiarid wheat system." Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 102, no. 2 (June 2015): 179-194. DOI:https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10705-015-9687-4.