Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
Abstract Yields of above ground biomass and total N were determined in summer-grown maize and cowpea as sole crops or intercrops, with or without supplementary N fertilizer (25 kg N ha−1, urea) at an irrigated site in Waroona, Western Australia over the period 1982–1985. Good agreement was obtained between estimates of N2 fixation of sole or intercrop cowpea (1984/85 season) based on the15N natural abundance and15N fertilizer dilution techniques, both in the field and in a glasshouse pot study. Field-grown cowpea was estimated to have received 53–69% of its N supply from N2-fixation, with N2-fixation onlyslightly affected by intercropping or N fertilizer application. Proportional reliance on N2-fixation of cowpea in glasshouse culture was lower (36–66%) than in the field study and more affected by applied N. Budgets for N were drawn up for the field intercrops, based on above-ground seed yields, return of crop residues, inputs of fixed N and fertilizer N. No account was taken of possible losses of N through volatilization, denitrification and leaching or gains of N in the soil from root biomass. N2-fixation was estimated tobe 59 kg N ha−1 in the plots receiving no fertilizer N, and 73 kg N ha−1 in plots receiving 25 kg N ha−1 as urea. Comparable fixation by sole cowpea was higher (87 and 82 kg N ha−1 respectively) but this advantage was outweighed by greater land use efficiency by the intercrop than sole crops.
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