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Early pea "partner" varieties were used for field experiment, and finally nitrogen and organic matter were enriched in dry climate area

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https://www.eduzhai.net International Journal of Plant Research 2013, 3(4): 63-66 DOI: 10.5923/j.plant.20130304.03 Field Trial Using the Early Pea “Partner” Variety, Finalised to Nitrogen and Organic Matter Enrichment in a Dry Climate Area Palmiro Poltronieri1,*, Pasquale Guerrieri2, Stefania Bonsegna1, Stefania De Domenico1, Marco Taurino1 1CNR-ISPA, Institute of Sciences of Food Productions, National Research Council, Lecce, Italy 2Azienda Agricola Abstract Legumes play an increasing role in mixed cropping systems, crop rotations and as target crops for food, livestock feeding, and in human diets. Among grain legumes, the most important protein-rich crops are peas (Pisum sativum). The availability of early varieties favours the production of grain pea in shorter periods, after the end of rainy seasons and before the long periods of drought before summer. A field trial using an early pea variety was set up in march and lasted until the middle of June, when we measured the soil content in nitrogen and organic matter, to assess the enrichment rate in this period. The data presented in the study support the improvement of carbon and nitrogen input into the soil through a rotation of crops in the same year, to achieve an increase of resource use efficiency, and to reduce agriculture environmental impact with ad hoc climate mitigation solutions. Keywords Legumes, Early Pea Variety, Nitrogen, Organic Matter, Doubling Crops 1. Introduction Recently in European agriculture pea (Pisum sativum) cultivation has significantly decreased, due to increased use of chemical fertilizers in crop production and to feedstock price competition. Nowadays the European feed sector is importing more than 70% of the proteins from outside Europe. The decrease in legume cultivation is creating a strong disequilibrium for soils, biodiversity, sustainability and mitigation of environmental impacts. Soil, water and nutrients in a dynamic environment Soil is the primary substrate for growing crops. Soil, water and nutrients in agro-ecosystems are fundamental factors in agricultural production. These important resources are exposed to overexploitation. The availability of soil for crop productions is decreasing, partly as a consequence of increasing land use by urban population, and by increasing soil area for non-food productions. There is a need to preserve and improve soil fertility, to optimise soil biological, chemical and physical properties and processes. Climate mitigation and adaptation require that agriculture does reduce its environmental footprint, e.g. by reducing greenhouse gases through an increase of cultivated areas with an appropriate use of food crops, and decreasing the * Corresponding author: palmiro.poltronieri@ispa.cnr.it (Palmiro Poltronieri) Published online at https://www.eduzhai.net Copyright © 2013 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved loss of carbon and phosphates from agricultural soils[1, 2]. Sustainable carbon footprints and the containment of energy costs, especially for chemical fertilisers, require an optimised use of agriculture. Resource use efficiency Agricultural products continuously remove nutrients from fields. Soil organic carbon has decreased in many agricultural soils, contributing to the increase in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere as well as reduced soil health and fertility. In order to compensate for this degradation carbon stores in soils need to be filled again with carbon sources with a long retention time in the soils. Integrated agricultural production needs to include nutrient loops having the potential to improve nutrient availability and soil quality by long-term carbon deposition to soils. Resource use efficiency has many different definitions. Agronomic resource use efficiency is indicated by the ratio of output (yield/hectare) versus input (described by added resources like fertilizer or amount of water). For crops, special emphasis has to be placed on low input (e.g. pesticides and fertilisers) and regionally adapted production systems, improved management of resources, ecological effects, nutrient and water use efficiency. Legumes play an increasing role in mixed cropping systems, crop rotations and as target crops for food, livestock feeding, and in human diets. Among grain legumes, the most important protein-rich crops are pea (Pisum sativum), chickpea and soybeans. Legume species require less fertilizer, while they add 64 Palmiro Poltronieri et al.: Field Trial Using the Early Pea “Partner” Variety, Finalised to Nitrogen and Organic Matter Enrichment in a Dry Climate Area nitrogen to the soil, thanks to nitrogen fixing Rhizobia adapted to the legume species, hosted in root nodules. Legumes are therefore important for the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture, particularly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing farmland biodiversity and protecting soil and water resources. Legume crops can produce even on marginal lands with little additional input utilising increasingly scarce and unevenly available resources like water, different nutrients and energy. The total area under grain and other annual legumes in Europe in general can and should be increased economic and environmental reasons. Grain legumes can profitably be included in crop rotations every 3–6 years[3]. Intercropping, crop rotation, or where water availability is allowing it, double cropping in the same season. There is a need to adapt and select crops to the most favourable climate conditions while withstanding periods of drought or heat, especially in low rainfall areas such in the Mediterranean regions. One approach is to increase resilience by diversification of plant production, such as crop rotations, or using mixed cultivation systems (cereals and associated legume crops). It is necessary to take into account that it will not be possible to increase the availability of arable land significantly. Thus, in regions where the environmental condition are favourable, exploitation of two crops in the same year could double the trapping of carbon into agricultural productions. Adaptation to field and environmental conditions have been envisaged for many legume species[3, 4]. Improved earliness in legumes is a trait that sustains the performance even in adverse environment especially with long drought periods occurring late in spring. The genetic control of seed quality traits and the effects of allelic variation have been shown to influence the performance and the yield in legume crops[5]. Among pea (Pisum sativum) species, the availability of early varieties favours the production of grain pea in shorter periods, after the end of rainy seasons and before the long periods of drought before summer. Peas may be harvested for table use when the pods are well fill and the young tender peas. Peas may be picked in 45 to 60 days, 75 days and 100 days according to early, mid season and late stages. Aims A field trial using an early pea variety was set up in march and lasted until the middle of June, with the aim to measure the levels of enrichment in nitrogen and organic matter. The scope of the trial was the assessment of enrichment rate of organic matter and fertiliser to support the improvement of carbon and nitrogen input into the soil through a rotation of crops in the same year, to achieve an increase of crop yield without additional costs. 2. Material and Methods Group E Rhizobium strain ISPA030511, isolated in our laboratory from nodules of pea roots and stored in vials with 20% glycerol containing medium, at liquid nitrogen temperature. The strain was grown in Rhizobium medium according to manufacturer’s instructions (HiMedia Laboratories, Mumbai, India) in biofermentors with capacity of 20 litres inoculated with a starter culture having an OD 0.8 measured spectrophotometrically at 600nm. The fermentation proceeded for 48 hours, then the biomass was collected in 0.5 litre sterile flasks and centrifuged at 1200 rpm for 15 minutes. The concentrated inoculum was sprayed on pea seeds layered on a plastic cloth on the ground, then seeds were loaded on the sowing machine. The experimental field is located in Novoli, Lecce, 40° 23' 00" North; 18° 03' 00" East. Abundant rainfalls ceased at the beginning of march, and ended completely in April. During the experiment the maximum temperatures were 15° in March, 24° in May and 26° in June, on average. Sampling of soil was done at distances of 15-20 meter, in order to be representative of different field locations. Twenty polyethylene bags containing three kg of soil were transferred to a private, certificated chemical laboratory. Total nitrogen was evaluated by the method of Kjeldahl. Organic carbon was measured with the Walkley-Black method. Analyses from five samples were averaged reporting the medium values. 3. Results An early pea variety, Partner, was kindly provided by researchers at Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops, Novi Sad, Serbia[6-9]. In 2012, the rainy period lasted from February until the beginning of March. The field trial was performed at the beginning of spring, in march, after the rains had ceased. When the soil hardened, the field was ploughed. The condition of the soil allowed the ploughing machines to prepare the soil and the sowing of pea seeds. At this stage, total free nitrogen and total bound nitrogen were analysed, producing the values shown in Table 1. Field pea seeds were inoculated with Group E Rhizobium strain before sowing. This supports a regular and even nodulation in legumes, unless the paddock has grown field pea in the previous cultivation. Seeds were sown within three days of inoculation, as the inoculum has only a limited life span on dry seed. In the trial, inoculated seeds of pea cv. Partner were sawn cultivated until the seed filling stage. The field trial covered 1 hectare of extension. No fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides were used at sowing or at later stages. After two and half months, the plants developed pods that were checked for seed protein content (Figure 1). Then, the field was ploughed releasing the plants as organic matter in the soil. Then, samples of the soil were collected to analyse the content of nitrogen and organic matter, to evaluate the enrichment obtained. The soil samples were collected in different points, and analysis results are presented as average values (Table 1). An enrichment of 4 fold for total nitrogen, and of 1,35 fold for organic matter was observed in this work. Pea seeds were International Journal of Plant Research 2013, 3(4): 63-66 65 harvested from the peripheral area surrounding the field.. In this way, a new seed stock was left for reproduction in the next season. In the central area, the field was ploughed leaving the entire plant in the soil. Table 1. Analysis of soil samples at two time settings Total nitrogen Organic matter Chemical analysis 5 /3/ 2012 0,224g/kg soil 14,32g/kg soil 15/6/2012 1,06 g/kg soil 17,96 g/kg soil deposition into the soil of whole plants with their mineral content. The avoidance of fertilisers and pesticides has a positive effect on energy costs intrinsic to the industrial production of chemical fertilisers, and on CO2 footprints. A reduction in greenhouse gases is attained through an increase of cultivation, doubling the crops that can be grown in the same year. Table 3. Agronomic use efficiency Use efficiency/hectare Legume crop Number of crops 2 Carbon footprint Organic soil CO2 footprint Doubling of CO2 fixation Nitrate industrial costs - Transport costs - standard 1 Depaupered soil Standard CO2 high high 5. Conclusions Figure 1. Pea plants developing mature pods in June 2012 4. Discussion An estimate of maintenance costs for double crops in one season was calculated. The cost of sowing and levelling the soil is around 60 euros/hectare. The cost of seeds in this work was 100 euro/100 kg (in 1 hectare). Values of cost analysis for this method compared to traditional fertiliser applications are reported (Table 2). The sampling of the pea pods, to be stored and used later on, allows an economic advantage on seed costs in the following season. The cost of nitrate supply for wheat (2 cycles after sowing) for 1 hectare is in the range of 80-100 euros. However, the industry production of nitrate has a high CO2 footprint and is energy demanding. The costs of fertilisers is, in this trial, have been saved, together with costs of manpower for nitrate distribution, i.e. two cycles of fertilisation of 1 hectare. The crop rotation practice is a feasible method extensively used in sustainable agriculture. Doubling the crops in the same season is not easily realised due to local environmental conditions and water availability. In the field trial we assessed the level of enrichment in organic matter and nitrogen of the soil using an early pea variety, leaving the field ready to grow a different crop. We showed that the legume-based fertilisation of the soil allows for a second crop in the same season without the need of fertilisers, when watering is not a limiting factor. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The research and the field trial was funded by a 10000 euro grant from “Nando Peretti” Foundation for sustainable agriculture projects. Table 2. Analysis of costs Seed costs Cost analysis/hectare No fertilisers 100 euro Inoculum costs 100 euro Using fertilisers 100 euro 100 euro 1st Ploughing + manpower 1st Nitrate + manpower 2nd Nitrate + manpower 60 euro - 60 euro 50 euro 50 euro The nitrogen and organic matter-enriched soil can be destined for growing a second crop, depending on the seasonal changes and water availability. In this work, the agronomic use efficiency was optimised, as shown in Table 3. We showed that the early-variety pea crop improved nutrients and organic matter availability and soil quality by REFERENCES [1] Garrity, D. P., Akinnifesi, F.K., Ajayi, O.C., Weldesemayat, S.G., Mowo, Je.G.., Kalinganire, A., Larwanou, M., Bayala, J. 2010, Evergreen Agriculture: a robust approach to sustainable food security in Africa. Food Sec., 2, 197–214. [2] Glover, J.D., Reganold, J.P., Cox, C.M., 2012, Plant perennials to save Africa’s soils. Nature, 489, 359-361. [3] Nemecek, T., von Richthofen, J.S., Dubois, G., Casta, P., Charles, R., Pahl H., 2008, Environmental impact of introducing grain legumes into European crop rotations. Eur J Agron, 28, 380–393. [4] Annicchiarico, P., Iannucci, A., 2008, Adaptation strategy, germplasm type and adaptive traits for field pea improvement in Italy based on variety responses across climatically contrasting environments. 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