A side-by-side comparison of biological nitrogen fixation and yield of four legume crops
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Evaluate potential N benefit from chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), faba bean (Vicia faba L.), lentil (Lens culinaris L.) and field pea (Pisum sativum L.). This is the first phase of a 2-year cropping sequence study quantifying above-ground and below-ground residue contributions to N uptake by subsequent crops.
The four legume crops were grown in field experiments. Biological N fixation (BNF) was quantified by 15N isotope dilution.
Faba bean fixed the most N (76%) and had the highest seed yield but because it exported >80% of N fixed to seed it had the second lowest residue N (39 kg ha−1). Chickpea and lentil fixed comparable amounts of N (62%) but had low seed yields and hence higher residue N (56 kg ha−1 and 40 kg ha−1, respectively). Field pea fixed the lowest amount of N (50%) but had the second highest seed yield and consequently the lowest residue N (24 kg ha−1).
High BNF does not reflect potential N benefit. Distribution of N to seed and residue were different among the legume crops, with chickpea and lentil being more sensitive than pea or faba bean to different climate conditions.
KeywordsPulse crops 15N isotope dilution Seed N Residue biomass Harvest index
Major financial support for this study was provided by the Saskatchewan Pulse Crop Development Board, with additional support provided by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and the Canada-Saskatchewan Growing Forward bi-lateral agreement (through the Agriculture Development Fund), and the Western Grains Research Foundation. Technical support was provided under the umbrella of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Strategic Research Program–Soil Biological Processes, and the Prairie Environmental Agronomy Research Laboratory (PEARL). Our sincere thanks to Myles Stocki for the 15N stable isotope analysis, and the skilled assistance of our lab and field technicians: Darin Richman, Frank Krijnen, Sharon Hankey, Mark Cooke, and Dwayne Richman, and all the staff and summer students.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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