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Soil Phosphorous Influence on Growth and Nutrition of Tropical Legume Cover Crops in Acidic Soil

Fageria, N. K., Baligar, V. C., Moreira, A., Moraes, L. A. C.
Communications in soil science and plant analysis 2013 v.44 no.22 pp. 3340
Cajanus, Calopogonium, Canavalia, Crotalaria, Lablab, Mucuna, Oxisols, Pueraria, acid soils, calcium, copper, cover crops, crop production, cropping systems, greenhouse experimentation, interspecific variation, iron, magnesium, manganese, nitrogen, nutrient content, nutrient deficiencies, nutrient uptake, nutrients, phosphorus, plant nutrition, plant tissues, potassium, root growth, shoots, soil fertility, sulfur, tropical and subtropical crops, tropical soils, tropics, zinc
In tropical regions, use of cover crops in crop production is an important strategy in maintaining sustainability of cropping systems. Phosphorus (P) deficiency in tropical soils is one of the most yield-limiting factors for successful production of cover crops. A greenhouse experiment was conducted to evaluate influence of P on growth and nutrient uptake in 14 tropical cover crops. The soil used in the experiment was an Oxisol, and P levels used were low (0 mg P kg ⁻¹), medium (100 mg P kg ⁻¹) and high (200 mg P kg ⁻¹). There was a significant influence of P and cover crop treatments on plant growth parameters. Phosphorus X cover crops interaction for shoot dry weight, root dry weight and root length was significant, indicating different responses of cover crops to variable P levels. Based on shoot dry weight efficiency index (SDEI), legume species were classified into efficient, moderately efficient or inefficient groups. Overall, white jack bean, gray mucuna bean, mucuna bean ana and black mucuna bean were most P efficient. Remaining species were inefficient in P utilization. Macro- and micronutrient concentrations (content per unit dry weight of tops) as well as uptakes (concentration x dry weight of tops) were significantly (P < 0.01) influenced by P as well as crop species treatments, except magnesium (Mg) and zinc (Zn) concentrations. The P x crop species interactions were significant for concentration and uptake of all the macro and micronutrients analyzed in the plant tissues, indicating concentrations and uptake of some nutrients increased while others decreased with increasing P levels. Hence, there was an antagonistic as well as synergetic effect of P on uptake of nutrients. However, uptake of all the macro and micronutrients increased with increasing P levels, indicating increase in dry weight of crop species with increasing P levels. Overall, nutrient concentration and uptake in the top of crop species were in the order of nitrogen (N) > potassium (K) > calcium (Ca) > Mg > sulfur (S) > P for macronutrients and iron (Fe) > manganese (Mn) > zinc (Zn) > copper (Cu) for micronutrients. Interspecific differences in shoot and root growth and nutrient uptake were observed at varying soil P levels