WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

Organic & Integrated Tree Fruit Production

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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1015. Bowren, K.E. (ed.).. 1986. Soil improvement with legumes.. Saskatchewan Agriculture, Soils and Crops Branch.
This excellent publication summarizes research over the past 40 years pertaining to the use of legumes for soil improvement in Saskatchewan. The role of legumes in maintaining soil nitrogen was crucial prior to available fertilizer. But their value extends beyond their nitrogen contribution to the improvement of soil physical properties. One study found the tillage draft requirement to be up to one-third lower where legumes had been a regular part of the rotation. The positive effects of alfalfa were measured for over ten years in a series of wheat crops compared to plots with no alfalfa. Over 17 years, the average grain yield from a wheat-wheat/clover-clover green manure rotation with no fertilizer were 30% higher that a wheat-wheat-fallow rotation with fertilizer. Moisture depletion by legumes is the biggest hurdle to their use in very dry areas. Adequate fertility for the legumes is necessary to maximize their benefit. Use of selected Rhizobium strains can improve nitrogen fixation, especially on acid soils. Several varieties of sweetclover are mentioned with adaptation to forage or green manure use. The booklet has numerous color photos and many data tables and figures.

10475. Campbell, C.A., G.P. LaFond, A.J. Leyshon, R.P. Zentner, and H.H. Janzen. 1991. Effect of cropping practices on the initial potential rate of N mineralization in a thin Black Chernozem.. Can. J. Soil Sci 71:43-53.
Potentially mineralizable N (No) was examined as a possible indicator of soil organic matter change due to management, using soil from 30 yr rotation plots near Indianhead, Saskatchewan. A parameter called the initial potential rate of N mineralization (No x rate constant k at time =0) was effective in distinguishing both the absolute and qualitative changes in soil organic N due to various management practices. The results showed that fertilizers can be as effective as legumes, used either for green manure or hay, in increasing the quantity and improving the quality of soil organic matter. Organic matter changes were similar between a 6 yr soil-building rotation and fertilized continuous wheat, but higher than unfertilized continuous wheat.

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