Dry season groundnut stover management practices determine nitrogen cycling efficiency and subsequent maize yields.

S. Promsakha Na Sakonnakhon, B. Toomsan, G. Cadisch, Elizabeth Baggs, P. Vityakon, V. Limpinuntana, S. Jogloy, A. Patanothai

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25 Citations (Scopus)


It is generally thought that grain legume residues make a substantial net N contribution to soil fertility in crop rotation systems. However, most studies focus on effects of residues on crops immediately sown after the legume crop while in fact in many tropical countries with a prolonged dry season there is a large gap before planting the next crop with potential for nutrient losses. Thus the objectives of this study were: to improve the efficiency of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) stover-N (100 kg N ha(-1)) recycling by evaluating the effect of dry season stover management, i.e. surface application and immediate incorporation after the legume crop or storage of residues until next cropping in the rainy season. N dynamics (litterbags, mineral N, microbial biomass N, N2O emissions) were monitored and 15 N labelled residues were applied to assess the fate of residue N in the plant-soil (0-100 cm) system during two subsequent maize crops. Recycling groundnut stover improved yield of the subsequent maize (Zea mays L.) crop compared to treatment without stover. A higher N recycling efficiency was observed when residues were incorporated (i.e. 55% total N-15 recovery after second maize crop) than when surface applied (43% recovery) at the beginning of the dry season. This was despite the faster nitrogen release of incorporated residues, which led to more mineral N movement to lower soil layers. It appears that a proportion of groundnut stover N released during the dry season was effectively captured by the natural weed population (54-70 kg N ha(-1)) and subsequently recycled particularly in the incorporation treatment. Despite the presence of weeds major leaching losses occurred during the onset of the rainy season while N2O emissions were relatively small. There was a good correlation between soil microbial biomass N and first crop maize yield. Incorporation of groundnut residues led to small increases in economic yield, i.e., 3120 versus 3528 kg ha(-1) over two cropping cycles in the surface versus incorporation treatments respectively, with corresponding residue 15 N uptakes of 4 and 8%, while 15 N recovery in water stable aggregates (9-15%) was not significantly different. In contrast, when stover was removed and applied before the first crop, yield benefits were highest with cumulative maize yields of 4350 kg ha(-1) and residue utilization of 12%. However, N recycling efficiency was not higher than in the early incorporation treatment due to an asynchrony of N release and maize N demand during the first crop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-199
Number of pages16
JournalPlant and Soil
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • decomposition
  • incorporation
  • litter bag
  • microbial biomass
  • mineral N
  • N-15 losses
  • surface application
  • RICE


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