Nitrate effects on N2 fixation, growth and feed quality of lucerne and perennial lupin




The effects of NO3 supply (0–500 kg N/ha) on total plant dry weight (DW), shoot N content and nutritional quality, and the proportion of plant N derived from the atmosphere (%Ndfa) were determined for lucerne and perennial lupin using 15NO3 under glasshouse conditions. Fodder beet was used as a non-legume control plant. The experiment was repeated. In both the initial and repeat experiments, total plant DW, shoot N% and shoot nutritional quality for lucerne and perennial lupin were not affected by NO3 supply. Total plant DW increased 10-fold and shoot N% tripled for fodder beet with increased N supply. In the initial experiment, the %Ndfa for lucerne decreased from 89 to 37% with increased N supply from 0 to 500 kg N/ha: comparable values for perennial lupin were 96 to 64%. In the repeat experiment, %Ndfa decreased from 90 to 49% and 93 to 65% for lucerne and perennial lupin, respectively, with increased NO3 supply from 0 to 500 kg N/ha. Both legumes showed an increased reliance on NO3 with increased soil NO3 level, but even at 500 kg N/ha (similar to N in sheep urine patch) perennial lupin obtained much of its N from N2 fixation.


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Research article