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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 79 No. 1, p. 96-100
    Received: June 4, 1986

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Nitrogen Contribution to Succeeding Corn from Alfalfa and Red Clover1

  1. T. W. Bruulsema and
  2. B. R. Christie2



The use of leguminous crops as plowdown has stimulated interest in their contribution to soil fertility. The contribution of N from single-year plowdown to a succeeding corn (Zea mays L.) crop was evaluated in two field experiments located at Elora, Ontario, on a Guelph-London loam series Grey-Brown Luvisolic (Typic Hapludalf) soil. In Experiment 1, 20 cultivars of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and 10 cultivars of red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) were compared. Experiment 2 included two cultivars each of alfalfa and red clover under three management treatments. Nitrogen yield of plowdown legumes was considered in relation to the yield and wholeplant N concentration of the succeeding corn crop. In both experiments, whole-plant N concentration of corn was significantly higher following alfalfa than following red clover. This suggested that alfalfa N was more readily mineralized than that of red clover, as predicted by a decomposability index based on the C/N ratio and lignin concentration of the plowdown material. However, corn yield following alfalfa plowdown was not always greater than that following red clover. Factors other than N-supply may have influenced corn yield response to legume plowdown. Although significant cultivar variation in plowdown N yield was observed, there appeared to be no association with succeeding corn yield and N concentration. In general, legume plowdown supported corn yields equivalent to those achieved with 90 to 125 kg ha−1 of fertilizer N.

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