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Nutrient uptake and use efficiency by tropical legume cover crops at varying ph of an oxisol

Fageria, N. K., Baligar, V. C., Li, Y. C.
Journal of plant nutrition 2014 v.37 no.2 pp. 294
Lablab, Oxisols, acid soils, acidity, beans, cover crops, cropping systems, dry matter accumulation, leaching, nutrient content, nutrient uptake, nutrient use efficiency, shoots, soil fertility, soil pH, sustainable agriculture, tropical soils
Oxisols comprise large soil group in tropical America. These soils are acidic and have low fertility. Use of tropical legume cover crops in cropping systems is an important strategy to improve fertility of these soils for sustainable crop production. Data are limited on nutrient uptake and use efficiency of tropical cover crops under different acidity levels. The objective of our study was to evaluate growth and nutrient uptake parameters of sixteen tropical legume cover crops under three soil pH (5.1, 6.5, and 7.0) of an Oxisol. Shoot dry weight was influenced significantly by pH and cover crop treatments and their interactions, indicating that cover crops used had differential responses to changing soil pH levels. Overall, shoot dry weight decreased when soil pH was raised from 5.1 to 7.0, indicating acidity tolerance of cover crops. Nutrient concentration (content per unit of dry weight), uptake (concentration X dry weight), and nutrient use efficiency (dry weight of shoot per unit of nutrient uptake) varied significantly among cover crops. The variation in nutrient uptake and use efficiency among cover crop species was associated with variation in shoot dry matter production. Significant variation among crop species in dry matter production and low C/N ratios (average value of 14.25) suggest that cover crops which produced higher dry matter yield like white jack bean, gray mucuna bean, black mucuna bean, mucuna bean ana, and lablab are important choices for planting in tropical soils to recover large amount of macro and micronutrients, and to prevent such nutrient leaching in soil plant systems.