Biomass Production and Potential Fixed Nitrogen Inputs from Leguminous Cover Crops in Subtropical Avocado Plantations
AbstractNitrogen (N) fertiliser is applied to perennial horticultural crops to increase yields, but subsequent N losses in subtropical plantations may be high due to intense rainfall and warmer temperatures. While legume cover crops could potentially contribute N to the tree crops and reduce fertiliser-N requirements, few studies have quantified potential fixed-N inputs from cover crops legumes in tropical or subtropical tree crop systems. To address this, we investigated growth and N fixation of summer-growing Pinto peanut (Arachis pintoi Krapov. & W. C. Greg cv. Amarillo) and winter/spring dominant white clover (Trifolium repens L. cv. Haifa) grown as a mixed species cover crop in two commercial subtropical avocado (Persea americana Mill. cv. Hass) plantations. Legume biomass was assessed prior to mowing of the inter-row (fortnightly in summer and every 6–8 weeks over winter) and N fixation was estimated using the 15N natural abundance technique. Biomass production was 7377 kg ha−1 (930 kg ha−1 for white clover and 6447 kg ha−1 for Pinto peanut) at the first site over the 14-month period from December 2014 to January 2016, and 4467 kg ha−1 (1114 kg ha−1 for white clover and 3353 kg ha−1 for Pinto peanut) at the second site over the same period. Estimation of N fixation was not possible at the first site, due to a lack of difference in isotopic discrimination between the legume shoots and the reference plant (kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum Chiov.)) material. While legume shoots accumulated 157 kg N ha−1 (38 kg ha−1 for white clover and 119 kg ha−1 for Pinto peanut) across the season at site 1, the % N derived from atmosphere (%Ndfa) in legumes was relatively low (50–60% in Pinto peanut during the warmer months and around 30% in autumn and early spring, and from 13 % in April to 69% in September for white clover). The low %Ndfa in the legumes may have been due to low rainfall or molybdenum (Mo) deficiency. Ultimately the legume cover crops contributed an estimated 50 kg fixed N ha−1, which could partially offset fertiliser N requirements of the tree crop. Our results demonstrate the need to quantify N fixation in legume cover crops to assess potential N benefits as opposed to relying on typical measurements of legume biomass and N accumulation. View Full-Text
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Rose, T.J.; Kearney, L.J. Biomass Production and Potential Fixed Nitrogen Inputs from Leguminous Cover Crops in Subtropical Avocado Plantations. Agronomy 2019, 9, 70.
Rose TJ, Kearney LJ. Biomass Production and Potential Fixed Nitrogen Inputs from Leguminous Cover Crops in Subtropical Avocado Plantations. Agronomy. 2019; 9(2):70.Chicago/Turabian Style
Rose, Terry J.; Kearney, Lee J. 2019. "Biomass Production and Potential Fixed Nitrogen Inputs from Leguminous Cover Crops in Subtropical Avocado Plantations." Agronomy 9, no. 2: 70.
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