Changes in soil mineral nitrogen, nitrogen leached, and surface pH under annual and perennial pasture species

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dc.contributor Dear, BS
dc.contributor Virgona, JM
dc.contributor Sandral, GA
dc.contributor Swan, AD
dc.contributor Morris, S 2012-03-08T00:45:09Z 2012-03-08T00:45:09Z 2009
dc.description.abstract Soil mineral nitrogen (N) profiles during the growing season and changes in total soil N and available N after 3–4 years were examined under 9 different pasture swards containing annual legumes, lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), or one of 4 perennial grasses at 2 sites representative of the low and medium rainfall belt of south-eastern Australia. The effect of the presence of phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.) or lucerne on the spatial variation in surface pH was also measured. The 9 pastures were subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.), subterranean clover with annual weeds, yellow serradella (Ornithopus compressus L.), lucerne, phalaris, cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.), lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula (Schrader) Nees), wallaby grass (Austrodanthonia richardsonii (Cashm.) H.P. Linder), and a mixture of lucerne, phalaris, and cocksfoot. All the perennial treatments were sown with subterranean clover. Available mineral N values in the surface 0.10m of soil following summer rainfall were substantially higher in pure subterranean clover or serradella (Ornithopus compressus L.) swards (24–50μg N/g) than those containing a mixture of subterranean clover and perennials (9–20μg N/g). Apparent leaching of soil nitrate down the profile during winter was greatest in annual pasture treatments and least in swards containing perennials. Soil pH(CaCl2) at the 0–0.10m depth varied with proximity to perennial plants and was significantly higher (+0.2–1.1 pH units) near the base of perennial plants than in gaps between the perennials or in annual-only swards. Available mineral N to 1.0m before cropping at the end of the pasture phase was highest following subterranean clover (175–344kgN/ha) and serradella (202–316kgN/ha) at both sites. Available N was lowest (91–143kgN/ha) following perennial grass–clover swards at the drier site where the annual legume content was lower, but perennial grass–clover swards produced larger soil N values (147–219kgN/ha) at the higher rainfall site. Removal of the pasture in August–September compared with November in the year before cropping increased available N at the time of sowing by an average of 44% (51kgN/ha) at the drier site and 43% (74kgN/ha) at the wetter site. Incorporating perennial pasture species in swards was found to be advantageous in reducing nitrate leaching and preventing a decline in surface soil pH; however, available soil N to following crops could be lower if the annual legume content of perennial grass-based pastures declined due to competition from the perennial species.
dc.publisher CSIRO
dc.subject nitrate leaching
dc.subject serradella
dc.subject phalaris
dc.subject lucerne
dc.subject lovegrass
dc.subject danthonia
dc.subject cocksfoot
dc.subject subterranean clover
dc.subject soil acidity
dc.title Changes in soil mineral nitrogen, nitrogen leached, and surface pH under annual and perennial pasture species
dc.type Research
dc.description.version Journal article
dc.identifier.volume 60 975-986
dc.identifier.issue 10

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