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Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11

Crop residue and fertiliser N effects on nitrogen fixation and yields

of legume–cereal rotations and soil organic fertility
Z. Shaha, S.H. Shahb, M.B. Peoplesc, G.D. Schwenked, D.F. Herridged,*
Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, NWFP Agricultural University, Peshawar, Pakistan
Agricultural Research Institute, Tarnab, Peshawar, Pakistan
CSIRO Plant Industry, PO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
NSW Agriculture, TCCI, RMB 944, Tamworth, NSW 2340, Australia
Received 2 July 2002; received in revised form 8 December 2002; accepted 8 January 2003


Improved management of nitrogen (N) in low N soils is critical for increased land productivity and economic sustainability.
We report results of a rainfed rotation experiment, conducted in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan, during
1995–1999 to evaluate effects of residue retention and fertiliser N on N2 fixation inputs and yields of a mungbean (Vigna
radiata)–wheat (Triticum aestivum) sequence, and a lentil (Lens culinaris)–summer cereal sequence. Mungbean and sorghum
(Sorghum bicolor) or maize (Zea mays) were grown in the summers and lentil and wheat in the winters. Immediately after grain
harvest, above-ground residues of all crops were either completely removed (residue), or chopped into 5–20 cm pieces, spread
across the plots and incorporated by chisel plough (þresidue). Fertiliser N rates were nil or 120 kg N/ha for wheat and nil or
150 kg N/ha for sorghum/maize. The percentage of mungbean N derived from N2 fixation (%Ndfa) ranged from 47% to almost
100% (mean of 75%). On average, mungbean fixed 112 kg N/ha (þresidues) and 74 kg N/ha (residues), with N balances of
þ64 kg N/ha (þresidues) and þ9 kg N/ha (residues). Lentil %Ndfa ranged from 50 to 87% (mean of 73%). Values for crop N
fixed were 42–85 kg N/ha, with a mean of 68 kg N/ha. Average N balances for lentil were þ27 kg N/ha (þresidues) and
þ16 kg N/ha (residues). Grain yields of the 0N wheat responded to the previous mungbean (36% increase over the 0N
sorghum), but showed an even greater response to fertiliser N applied to the previous sorghum (150% increase). Highest yields
were recorded for the N-fertilised wheat (average of 2.27 t/ha). Shoot biomass yields of the 0N sorghum and maize responded
strongly to the previous lentil crop (49% average increase over the 0N wheat) and fertiliser N, applied either to the crop itself
(140%) or to the previous wheat crop (32%). Residue retention increased shoot biomass yields of both the summer (average of
20%) and winter crops (average of 9%). Grain yield benefits of residues were 13% for mungbean, and 8% for wheat and lentil.
Soil organic N and total organic C, labile C and C management index (CMI), were all increased by N inputs, from both fertiliser
and N2 fixation, and by retention of residues We concluded that retention of residues improves the N economy of the cropping
system and enhances crop productivity through the additional N and other soil effects. The question of whether farmers who
traditionally remove residues for fodder and fuel would change practices and return the residues to the soil will depend to a large
extent on the relative profitability of both options.
# 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Pulses; Residues; Fertiliser N; Wheat; Nitrogen fixation; Rotations; Benefits; N balance

Corresponding author. Tel.: þ61-267-6311-43; fax: þ61-267-664-309.
E-mail address: david.herridge@agric.nsw.gov.au (D.F. Herridge).

0378-4290/03/$ – see front matter # 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
2 Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11

1. Introduction This relationship between residue inputs and subse-

quent crop yield is mediated through increased mineral
The benefits of the pulse and oilseed grain legumes N supplying capacity of the soil (Hossain et al., 1996a)
in cropping systems are well established. They can fix and increased levels of soil mineral N (Campbell et al.,
substantial amounts of atmospheric N2, which allows 1992; Hossain et al., 1996b).
them to be grown in N-impoverished soils without Returning residues to the soil may also moderate
fertiliser N inputs. The nodulated roots and above- extremes of soil temperatures and improve soil
ground residues, remaining after the seed and other organic matter levels, soil structure and the infiltration,
components of the crop have been harvested, represent storage and utilisation of soil water (Doran et al.,
a potentially valuable source of N for replenishing soil 1984; Power et al., 1986). The improved soil condi-
N pools (Peoples and Craswell, 1992; Giller, 2001). tions are likely to enhance not only productivity of
Mineral N in root-zone soil following grain legumes both legume and cereal phases of the rotation but
is often 30–60 kg N/ha higher than after cereal crops legume N2 fixation and N balance as well.
in the same environment (Evans et al., 1989; Heenan With much of the cropping in less developed coun-
and Chan, 1992; Badaruddin and Meyer, 1994; Dalal tries, the above-ground residues are removed with the
et al., 1998). The increases have been attributed to grain to be used as animal feed or cooking fuel (Wani
both nitrate-sparing by the legume (Evans et al., 1991) et al., 1995; Giller, 2001). The residues, depending on
and mineralisation of the N-rich residues (Evans et al., type and quality, commonly contain 20–80 kg N/ha
1991; Campbell et al., 1992). In almost all situations, and, in some instances, >150 kg N/ha and (Giller,
the increased N supply results in increased yields of a 2001). For farmers to change their farming practices
following cereal crop. and retain such residues, they would need to be con-
Rotation experiments involving sorghum (Sorghum vinced that the residues have more value as a source of
bicolor) and maize (Zea mays) indicated grain yield soil organic matter and nutrients for plant growth than
responses to previous legume crops of 0.5–3.7 t/ha, or as feed and fuel. Thus, quantifying effects of residue
30–350% (Gakale and Clegg, 1987; Armstrong et al., retention on soil N fertility and land productivity in
1999; Varvel, 2000). Responses were equivalent to targeted environments and cropping systems would
applications of fertiliser N of 40–170 kg/ha. In the case appear to be a matter of urgency.
of wheat (Triticum aestivum), responses to previous We report results of a rotation experiment at Kabal,
legume crops were commonly 0.5–1.5 t/ha or 40– Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan, from
100% of the yield of wheat after wheat (Evans et al., winter 1995/1996 to summer 1999. Objectives were to
1991; Campbell et al., 1992; Schultz, 1995; Dalal et al., evaluate effects of residue retention and fertiliser N
1998). Fertiliser N equivalences were 40–100 kg N/ha on N2 fixation inputs and yields of: (i) a mungbean
(Ahlawat et al., 1981; Schultz, 1995; Dalal et al., (Vigna radiata)–wheat sequence, and (ii) a lentil
1998). Such responses have been reported for annual (Lens culinaris)–summer cereal (maize and sorghum)
cropping systems, in which a cereal in one year follows sequence. We combined data on N2 fixation of the
a legume in the previous year, and for double-crop legumes with shoot and grain dry matter and N con-
systems where the cereal is sown immediately after tents to determine treatment effects on the net N
harvest of the legume (Sanford and Hairston, 1984). contributions, i.e. N balances, of the legumes. Treat-
The full N benefits of the legumes will only be ment effects on soil organic fertility were also assessed
realised, however, if all residues are returned after grain after three years (six crops) of cropping.
harvest (Jensen, 1995; Wani et al., 1995). In the absence
of other yield-limiting factors, the relationship between
residue N input and yield of a following cereal crop is 2. Materials and methods
very strong (e.g. Schulz et al., 1999). The data of Asseng
et al. (1998) indicated that an additional 50 kg resi- 2.1. Trial description
due N/ha would increase wheat grain yield by 1 t/ha.
Values for rice (Oryza sativa) were 0.8 t/ha increase for In July 1995, the rotation experiment was com-
each additional 50 kg residue N/ha (Schulz et al., 1999). menced in a farmer’s field on a well drained, silty loam
Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11 3

(thermic, typic Dystrudepts placed in the Pirsabak Table 1

series (US Soil Taxonomy)) near Kabal, NWFP, Paki- Treatments (residues, crop sequence and fertiliser N) in the rotation
experiment at Kabal, NWFP, Pakistan. The sequence commenced
stan (348460 N, 728170 E). Physical and chemical char-
in the winter 1995/1996 with wheat, followed by the 1996 summer
acteristics of the surface 10 cm of soil were: pH (H2O) crops, mungbean and maizea
7.4, bulk density 1.48 g/cm3, organic C 0.65% and
total N 0.088%. The site had been cropped with wheat Residue Winter crops Summer cropsb
and vegetables for >50 years. Kabal is at an altitude þ or residues Lentil Sorghum 0N
of 980 m above sea level in the Swat River Valley of Lentil Sorghum 150N
NWFP, and has a cool to mild climate. Average rain- Wheat 0N Sorghum 0N
Wheat 0N Sorghum 150N
fall is 910 mm per annum with a winter dominance.
Wheat 0N Mungbean 0N
In the first season (summer 1995), maize was grown Wheat 120N Sorghum 0N
across the site to quantify soil 15 N levels, and equalise Wheat 120N Sorghum 150N
fertility gradients. The rotation sequence was com- Wheat 120N Mungbean 0N
menced in November 1995 with the first wheat crop. a
The sequence was completed with the 1999 summer crops.
Fertiliser N rates were 120 kg/ha for wheat and 150 kg/ha for
2.2. Experimental design and sowing sorghum/maize.
Maize was grown instead of sorghum in the 1996 summer.
Experimental design was a split-plot with two
residue management treatments (main plots), eight The rates and timings of fertiliser application were
crop rotation/N fertiliser treatments (sub-plots), and according to local recommendations (Bhatti et al.,
four replications (Table 1). Sub-plot size was 2002). Applications of P and K were to ensure that
8 m  5 m. Immediately after grain harvest, above- these elements were not limiting crop yield. Details of
ground residues of all crops were either completely sowing and grain harvest dates and seasonal rainfall
removed (residue), or chopped into 5–20 cm pieces, are provided in Table 2.
spread across the plots and incorporated by chisel
plough (þresidue) to 8 cm depth. Cultivars sown were 2.3. Plant sampling and analysis
Pirsabak 85 in 1995, Inqilab 91 in other years (wheat),
Swat 97 (mungbean), Kissan (maize, grown in 1996 Above-ground biomass of mungbean and lentil was
only) and a local variety of sorghum (grown in 1997– measured at maximum pod-fill stage from harvested
1999). All seeds were sown by hand into 5 cm depth 1 m2 quadrats (one per replicate). Non-legume weeds
rows. Row spacings were 30 cm (wheat and pulses) or within the quadrats were separated from the legumes
60 cm (maize and sorghum). All cereals were either and processed and analysed as a non-N2-fixing refer-
unfertilised (0N) or fertilised (þN) with 120 kg N/ha ence for the natural 15 N abundance assessment of
(wheat) or 150 kg N/ha (maize and sorghum) as urea, N2 fixation (Shearer and Kohl, 1986). Mungbean
half at sowing and half at the first or second rainfall. and lentil grain yield, and cereal biomass and grain
Triple-superphosphate (39 kg P/ha) and potassium yields were determined from 1 m2 quadrats at crop
sulphate (42 kg K/ha) was added to all plots at sowing. maturity. Only grain yield data for wheat are presented.

Table 2
Sowing, harvest and rainfall (sowing to harvest) details for each season

Winter, Summer, Winter, Summer, Winter, Summer, Winter, Summer,

1995/1996 1996 1996/1997 1997 1997/1998 1998 1998/1999 1999

Sowing 10 November 14–15 July 7 November 3 July 3 November 18 July 10 November 7 July
Grain 11–12 May 21 September– 25 May–4 June 21 September– 10–13 May 27 September– 10–18 May 27 September–
harvest 11 October 9 October 10 October 8 October
Rainfall 681 326 461 340 652 350 479 364
Average rainfall for summer (June–October) is 352 mm; for winter (November–May) 566 mm.
4 Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11

Losses of the summer cereal grain through theft and pool size and the liability, an estimate of turnover rate,
bird damage meant that the yield estimates were of C in the soil to derive a C management index (CMI)
unreliable. as
All shoot and grain samples were oven dried at CMI ¼ CPI  LI  100
80 8C to a constant mass, weighed, then finely ground
(<0.1 mm). Shoot samples were analysed for total where
N and d15 N using an automated N analyser/mass sample total C
Carbon pool index ðCPIÞ ¼
spectrometer (ANCA-SL/20-20 stable isotope mass reference total C
spectrometer, Europa Scientific, Crewe, UK). Grain and
samples were analysed for total N using Kjeldahl
lability of sample
digestion. Lability index ðLIÞ ¼
Shoot d15 N values were expressed with reference to lability of reference soil
air N2 as follows: and
Rsample  Rair labile C
d15 N ¼ 1000  Lability ¼
Rair non-labile C
where R is the ratio mass 29/mass 28. The proportion and
of plant N derived from atmosphere (%Ndfa) for Non-labile C ¼ total C  labile C
mungbean and lentil was then determined using
The base treatment, wheat 0N–sorghum 0N (residue),
%Ndfa ¼ 100  was used as the reference for CMI calculations.
where x is the d15 N of shoots of weeds deriving all 2.5. Statistical analysis
their N from the soil (non-N2-fixing reference), y the
d15 N of the mungbean or lentil shoots, z the d15 N of Treatment effects were determined by analysis of
mungbean or lentil receiving all N from N2 fixation. variance (ANOVA) using Genstat for Windows (5th
The values used for z were 2.50 and 1.50% (Shah edition). The standard errors (difference) are presented
et al., 1997). in the results tables together with significance at either
Total crop N fixed was calculated by multiplying the 5, 1 or 0.1% levels indicated.
%Ndfa by shoot N by a constant of either 1.4 (mung-
bean) or 1.54 (lentil). The constants accounted for
below-ground N and were derived from 15 N-based 3. Results
studies (Khan et al., 2002; McNeil and Unkovich,
pers. comm.). Thus, 3.1. Nitrogen fixation and N balances
of mungbean and lentil
Crop N fixed ¼ %Ndfa  shoot N  1:4 or 1:54
Residue management had a larger, more significant
2.4. Soil sampling and analysis effect on mungbean N2 fixation, grain yield and N
balance than rate of fertiliser N applied to the previous
Prior to sowing of the winter crop each year, each wheat crop. Therefore, data presented (Table 3) are the
plot was cored to 60 cm and sectioned by depth (0–10, means of the two N fertiliser rates. The d15 N values of
10–30 and 30–60 cm). A sub-sample was weighed, the non-N2-fixing reference plants were low, with an
dried to constant weight at 105 8C, then reweighed overall average of þ1.37%, and were similar to the
for field soil water content. In November 1998, the published reference-plant values from on-farm sur-
0–10 cm samples were air dried, finely ground veys of legume N2 fixation in northern Pakistan (Ali
(<0.2 mm) and analysed for total N (Dalal et al., et al., 1997; Shah et al., 1997). Although low, they
1984), labile C (Blair et al., 1995) and organic carbon were considered to be sufficient to provide reasonable
(C) (Heanes, 1984). Blair et al. (1995) used the total C estimates of %Ndfa (Peoples et al., 1997).
Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11 5

Table 3
Effects of residue retention on N2 fixation, grain yield and N balances for mungbean in the summer crop–wheat rotations at Kabal, NWFP,

Residue d15 N (%) %Ndfa Crop N Grain Grain N N balancec

treatment fixedb (kg/ha) yield (t/ha) removed (kg/ha) (kg/ha)
Referenced Mungbean

Residue þ1.09 0.92 54 86 1.07 47 þ9
þResidue þ1.45 1.39 71 110 1.17 52 þ59
Significance n.s.e n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s. <0.05
S.E.D. 0.22 0.42 13.2 22.6 0.03 1.4 18.7

Residue þ0.96 1.97 82 81 1.12 50 þ22
þResidue þ0.96 2.13 84 144 1.49 65 þ78
Significance n.s. n.s. n.s. <0.05 n.s. n.s. <0.05
S.E.D. 0.33 0.11 2.6 19.4 0.22 9.7 16.3

Residue þ1.63 1.39 73 55 0.52 23 3
þResidue þ2.10 1.69 82 82 0.59 26 þ56
Significance n.s. <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 n.s. n.s. <0.001
S.E.D. 0.15 0.05 2.1 6.0 0.05 2.3 1.6

Average 1996–1998
Residue þ1.23 1.43 70 74 0.91 40 þ9
þResidue þ1.51 1.73 79 112 1.08 48 þ64
Significance n.s. n.s. n.s. <0.01 n.s. n.s. <0.001
S.E.D. 0.17 0.13 3.4 4.4 0.09 3.9 2.1
Values are the averages of the two wheat N treatments, i.e. 0 and 120 kg N/ha.
Includes below-ground N. Calculated as shoot N  1:4 (see Section 2).
Calculated as: crop N fixed  grain N ðþresiduesÞ and crop N fixed  ðgrain N þ 0:5  ðshoot biomass N  grain NÞÞ ðresiduesÞ.
Non-N2-fixing reference plant.
Non-significant at P ¼ 0:05.

Mungbean reliance on N2 fixation (%Ndfa) ranged of the experiment, with biomass ranging 1.1–3.3 t/ha
from 47% to almost 100%. Residue retention increased and grain yield 0.3–1.5 t/ha. Values for %Ndfa were
%Ndfa by an average of 13% and crop N fixed by an very similar to those of mungbean, at 50–87% with an
average of 51% (38 kg N/ha), due to the combined overall mean of 73% (Table 4). Crop N fixed ranged 42–
effects of increased %Ndfa and crop biomass (Table 3). 85 kg N/ha, with an overall mean of 68 kg N/ha. Effects
Grain yields were consistently higher when residues of residue retention on crop N fixed and N balance were
were retained, although differences were not signi- not significant (P > 0:05). However, retention of resi-
ficant (P > 0:05). Retention of residues increased the dues increased lentil N balances by 6–18 kg N/ha, with
N balance of mungbean by 50–59 kg N/ha (average of an average of 11 kg N/ha (P < 0:10).
55 kg N/ha).
In the case of lentil, the overall average d15 N of 3.2. Rotation, residue and fertiliser N effects
reference plants was þ1.35% (Table 4), which was on wheat and sorghum/maize
almost identical to the average reference value of
þ1.37% from the mungbean N2 fixation assessments. Fertiliser N had a substantial effect on wheat pro-
Lentil production varied considerably during the course ductivity (Table 5). With the non-N-fertilised wheat,
6 Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11

Table 4
Effects of residue retention on N2 fixation, grain yield and N balances for lentil in the winter crop–summer cereal rotations at Kabal, NWFP,

Residue d15 N (%) %Ndfa Crop N Grain Grain N N balancec

treatment fixedb (kg/ha) yield (t/ha) removed (kg/ha) (kg/ha)
Referenced Lentil

Residue þ2.40 0.79 82 77 0.82 36 þ22
þResidue þ2.32 0.91 85 84 1.17 52 þ32

Significance n.s.e <0.05 <0.05 n.s. <0.05 <0.05 n.s.

S.E.D. 0.07 0.03 0.5 5.5 0.04 1.9 7.6

Residue þ1.04 0.50 62 46 0.28 12 þ15
þResidue þ0.79 0.47 56 48 0.35 15 þ33

Significance n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s. <0.05 <0.01 n.s.

S.E.D. 0.36 0.46 16.2 10.4 0.01 0.4 9.7

Residue þ1.08 0.96 77 82 1.63 72 þ10
þResidue þ1.11 1.02 80 71 1.24 55 þ16

Significance n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s. <0.05 <0.05 n.s.

S.E.D. 0.33 0.24 10.0 10.9 0.10 4.4 9.8

Average 1995–1998
Residue þ1.30 0.66 73 68 0.89 39 þ16
þResidue þ1.41 0.80 73 68 0.92 40 þ27

Significance n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s. n.s.

S.E.D. 0.25 0.25 10.7 9.7 0.03 1.6 7.5
Values are the averages of the two fertiliser N treatments, i.e. 0 and 150 kg N/ha applied to the summer cereals.
Includes below-ground N. Calculated as shoot N  1:54 (see Section 2).
Calculated as: crop N fixed  grain N ðþresiduesÞ and crop N fixed  ðgrain N þ 0:5  ðshoot biomass N  grain NÞÞ ðresiduesÞ.
Non-N2-fixing reference plant.
Non-significant at P ¼ 0:05.

shoot biomass responded to the previous mungbean 45%) in the nil-N wheat, but only by an average
(46% increase over sorghum 0N), but showed an even of 1% in the þN wheat. The pattern was similar for
greater response to the fertiliser N applied to the grain yield, with residue retention increasing nil-N
previous sorghum (175% increase). Grain yield wheat yields by 19–83% (average of 43%), compared
responses were similar with mungbean providing an with just 2% increase for the N-fertilised wheat
average 36% increase and the carryover fertiliser N (Fig. 1).
from the previous sorghum a 150% increase. Highest With the nil-N sorghum and maize, shoot biomass
yields were recorded for the N-fertilised wheat, with was increased by the previous lentil crop (Table 6).
average biomass yields of 9.52 t/ha and grain yields of Responses were 9–105% (0.6–3.5 t/ha) of the sor-
2.27 t/ha. ghum after wheat 0N, with an overall average response
There were significant interactions of fertiliser N of 49% (final column, Table 6). Biomass yields of the
and residue management on wheat yields. Residue sorghum and maize were also increased by fertiliser N,
retention increased biomass by 14–73% (average of applied either to the crop itself (140% increase) or to
Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11 7

Table 5
Effects of previous crop and fertiliser N on shoot biomass and grain
yields (t/ha) of wheat in the summer crop–wheat rotations at Kabal,
NWFP, Pakistana

Fertiliser/previous 1996/ 1997/ 1998/ Average

cropb 1997 1998 1999 1996–1999

Shoot biomass
Wheat 0N following:
Sorghum 0N 3.06 2.02 3.09 2.72
Sorghum þN 6.46 9.00 6.50 7.32
Mungbean 3.82 3.87 4.28 3.99

Wheat þN following:
Sorghum 0N 7.62 11.39 7.90 8.97
Sorghum þN 7.73 13.25 7.86 9.61
Mungbean 7.66 14.18 8.12 9.99

Significance <0.001 <0.001 <0.001 <0.001

S.E.D. 0.56 0.77 0.33 0.35
Fig. 1. Interactions of residue management and N fertilisation of
Grain yield the wheat on the wheat grain yields (t/ha) in the rotation experiment
Wheat 0N following: at Kabal, NWFP, Pakistan. Yields are the means of the three seasons.
Sorghum 0N 0.86 0.49 0.92 0.76
Sorghum þN 1.82 1.65 2.22 1.90
Mungbean 0N 1.08 0.82 1.18 1.03
and for the two N levels, of 20% (P < 0:01), whilst the
Wheat þN following:
winter crop biomass was increased by 9% (P < 0:05).
Sorghum 0N 2.08 1.72 2.40 2.07
Sorghum þN 2.02 2.47 2.50 2.33 The results were similar for grain yields. The average
Mungbean 0N 2.18 2.65 2.40 2.41 benefit of residue retention for mungbean was 13, and
8% for wheat and lentil (P < 0:10).
Significance <0.001 <0.001 <0.001 <0.001
S.E.D. 0.17 0.20 0.14 0.09
Yields are the averages for the two residue treatments. Fertiliser Table 6
N rates were 120 kg/ha for wheat and 150 kg/ha for sorghum/maize. Effects of previous crop and fertiliser N on shoot biomass yields
No fertiliser N was applied to mungbean. (t/ha) of maize (1996) and sorghum (1997–1999) in the winter
Maize was grown instead of sorghum in the 1996 summer. crop–summer cereal rotations at Kabal, NWFP, Pakistana

Treatment 1996 1997 1998 1999 Average

the previous wheat crop (32% increase). Benefits of 1996–1999
the prior lentils disappeared when the maize/sorghum Sorghum/maize 0N following:
was fertilised with N. Wheat 0N 6.74 3.32 2.18 3.05 3.83
With maize and sorghum, there were only marginal Wheat þN 6.22 5.39 3.63 4.97 5.05
Lentil 7.32 6.81 4.26 4.42 5.70
differences between the two N treatments (P > 0:05)
in responses to residues (data not shown). With the Sorghum/maize þN following:
nil-N crops, residue retention increased shoot biomass Wheat 0N 11.69 8.50 9.27 7.27 9.18
Wheat þN 11.83 8.48 9.96 8.00 9.57
yields by an average of 23%, compared with an Lentil 12.01 8.19 9.38 5.80 8.85
increase of 18% for the N-fertilised crops.
Residue retention increased shoot biomass and Significance <0.001 <0.001 <0.001 <0.001 <0.001
grain yields of both the summer and winter crops in S.E.D. 0.72 0.38 0.38 0.36 0.23
seven of the eight seasons. The only crop that did not a
Yields are the averages of the two residue treatments. Fertiliser
benefit was the 1997/1998 wheat. Summer crop bio- N rates were 120 kg/ha for wheat and 150 kg/ha for sorghum/maize.
mass was increased by an average, over all seasons No fertiliser N was applied to lentil.
8 Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11

3.3. Rotation, residue and fertiliser N effects (Blair et al., 1995). Residue retention increased soil
on soil organic fertility total N marginally.

Effects of crop rotation, fertiliser N and residues on

measures of soil organic C and N fertility in November 4. Discussion
1998, i.e. after three phases of each of the wheat and
summer crops, are summarised in Table 7. The seven 4.1. Nitrogen fixation and N balances
treatments that included either fertiliser N or the of mungbean and lentil
N2-fixing legumes all increased soil total N, relative
to the unfertilised wheat–sorghum control and to the A number of field studies have now examined and
starting value of 0.088% (see Table 1). With the three quantified the rotational benefits of legumes for the
indices of organic C, however, values were more following cereal crop. Usually, such studies involve
closely aligned with the N fertilisation of wheat. either the retention (e.g. Gakale and Clegg, 1987;
The wheat þN treatments were, on average, 5% (total Evans et al., 1991; Ahmad et al., 2001) or removal
organic C), 10% (labile C) and 12% (CMI) higher (e.g. Singh et al., 1985; Danso and Papastylianou,
than the wheat 0N treatments. Effects of residue reten- 1992) of residues, according to local practice. Effects
tion were to increase organic C, although not always of legume residues on N balances (Beck et al., 1991;
at P < 0:05. Increases were 9% for total organic C, Wani et al., 1995) and subsequent cereal yields
19% for labile C and 20% for the CMI, results (Asseng et al., 1998; Schulz et al., 1999) have also
that reinforces the notion that the latter two mea- been quantified. However, apart from the comprehen-
sures of soil organic matter fertility are more sensitive sive study of legume–rice production in northeast
to management changes than soil total organic C Thailand by Toomsan et al. (1995), it seems that this
has not been done in the same experiment. Addition-
Table 7 ally, there have been no studies in which the retention
Crop, fertiliser N and residue effects on indices of soil organic or removal of residues was applied to both the legume
fertility in the summer crop–winter crop rotations at Kabal, NWFP, and cereal phases of the rotation, and from which
Pakistan. The first eight values in each column are the averages of effects of residues on legume N2 fixation and N
the two residue treatments. The values for residue are the
averages of the eight crop/fertiliser N treatments
balance could be determined.
Our N2 fixation estimates for mungbean and lentil
Three phases Total Total Labile C CMI were generally consistent with published values, some
of treatmenta N (%) organic (mg/g) (%)
of which were from the same region. For mungbean,
C (%)
the average %Ndfa value of 75 was similar to the
Wheat 0N–sorghum 0N 0.080 0.78 1.47 100 average %Ndfa estimate from one on-farm survey of
Wheat 0N–sorghum þN 0.105 0.79 1.41 94 mungbean and black gram (Vigna mungo) in northern
Wheat 0N–mungbean 0.114 0.81 1.46 98 Pakistan (average 76%; range 45–90%) (Ali et al.,
Lentil–sorghum 0N 0.109 0.79 1.49 101 1997) and slightly higher than a second survey (aver-
Lentil–sorghum þN 0.110 0.79 1.46 100
age 47%; range 0–100%) (Shah et al., 1997). The
Wheat þN–sorghum 0N 0.104 0.83 1.61 110 average lentil %Ndfa value in this experiment of 73
Wheat þN–sorghum þN 0.109 0.84 1.63 112
was also similar to the published estimates from on-
Wheat þN–mungbean 0.112 0.83 1.53 103
farm surveys of commercial lentil crops in both north-
Significance <0.001 n.s. n.s. n.s. ern Pakistan (Shah et al., 1997) and Nepal (Maskey
S.E.D. 0.007 0.03 0.08 6.4 et al., 2001). The average %Ndfa value from both on-
farm surveys was 78.
Residue 0.102 0.77 1.38 93
Retention of residues increased the amount of N
þResidue 0.109 0.84 1.64 112
fixed by mungbean by an average of 38 kg N/ha, but
Significance n.s. n.s. <0.10 <0.10 had no such effect on lentil N2 fixation (Tables 3 and 4).
S.E.D. 0.009 0.04 0.10 7.9
The residue effect on mungbean was primarily
Maize was grown instead of sorghum in the 1996 summer. through increased crop biomass. Greater beneficial
Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11 9

effects of the residues on biomass yields of the sum- yields following the summer legumes, mungbean,
mer crops (average over all crops and treatments of soybean and black gram, in crop sequence experi-
20%) than the winter crops (average of 9%) suggest ments in the rainfed northern Pothwar, Pakistan.
that the residues may have moderated soil factors Similarly, in a 1-year, irrigated experiment in the
affecting growth, such as high temperature and low Indus R. valley, wheat yields were increased by
moisture (e.g. Sanford and Hairston, 1984). Measure- 25% by substituting either mungbean or black gram
ments of soil moisture at sowing indicated the residue- for sorghum (Ahmad et al., 2001). The positive effects
retained plots to contain an average 10% more moist- of residue retention on grain yield of the 0N wheat of
ure at sowing than the residue-removed plots (data not about 0.35 t/ha was not evident in the N-fertilised
shown). wheat (Fig. 1), suggesting that a major effect of the
Effects of residue retention to increase N balance of residues was to supply N. With the mungbean–0N
mungbean by an average of 55 kg/ha and lentil by an wheat sequence, the additional 50 kg N/ha mungbean
average of 11 kg N/ha reflected the effects of residue residues in the þresidue plots resulted in an increase
management on the N2 fixation inputs, discussed of 0.25 t/ha wheat grain. This was a lower conversion
above, and N outputs (harvested products) (Tables 3 of residue N to grain than reported by Asseng et al.
and 4). Amounts of the legume residue N removed (1998) and Schulz et al. (1999). The strong response
with the grain were, on average, 18 kg N/ha for to residues in the 0N sorghum–0N wheat sequence
mungbean and 11 kg N/ha for lentil (calculated from points to factors in addition to N, such as improved
Tables 3 and 4). Published estimates of residue N in temperature and moisture conditions (see above).
similar rotation experiments ranged 16–60 kg N/ha Lentil proved to be as effective a rotation crop for
for grain legume crops and >100 kg N/ha for ground- sorghum/maize as mungbean was for wheat (Table 6).
nut (Arachis hypogaea) (Beck et al., 1991; Toomsan Interestingly, Campbell et al. (1992) reported that the
et al., 1995; Asseng et al., 1998). benefits of lentil to soil N supply and grain yield and N
Our average N balances when residues were removed of wheat were cumulative and increased with succeed-
of þ9 kg N/ha for mungbean and þ16 kg N/ha for ing phases of the rotation. Benefits were close to zero
lentil were greater than published values, which varied after two lentil crops (4 years of the rotation), increas-
between 30 and 60 kg N/ha (Beck et al., 1991; ing to about 40 kg N/ha after four crops (8 years).
Toomsan et al., 1995; Wani et al., 1995). The discre- Although rotational benefits of lentil were apparent
pancy would be partly explained by the factors used to in the first 2 years of our experiment, results of the
calculate the contribution of below-ground N in this Campbell et al. (1992) study provide a reminder that
study, i.e. shoot N  1:4 (mungbean) or 1.54 (lentil), beneficial effects of legumes in cereal rotations may
compared with the assumptions made about below- not always be immediate, and that long-term experi-
ground N in the other studies. ments, i.e. 5–15 years, may be necessary for under-
standing the N dynamics of such systems.
4.2. Rotation, residue and fertiliser N effects
on wheat and sorghum/maize 4.3. Rotation, residue and fertiliser N effects
on soil organic fertility
Treatment effects, particularly fertiliser N, on wheat
yields are consistent with the low organic matter Our results are consistent with the many reports that
fertility of the soil at this site (Bhatti et al., 2002). highlight the relevance of N inputs and residue reten-
The carryover benefit to the 0N wheat of fertiliser N tion to the maintenance of soil organic matter. The
applied to the previous sorghum was unexpected and data of Campbell and Zentner (1993), from a 24-year
contrary to the general belief of the region’s farmers crop sequence study of wheat production in the semi-
and agricultural advisers that N fertilisers have little arid environment of western Canada, suggested that
residual value (Z. Shah, unpublished data). The rota- annual inputs of about 3.5 t/ha (above- and below-
tional benefit of mungbean (0.28 t/ha or 36% for the ground) residues were required to maintain soil
0N wheat) is consistent with results from elsewhere. organic N levels (see also Campbell et al., 1992).
Ali et al. (2002) reported 14–67% increases in wheat This value was similar to the 2–3 t/ha above-ground
10 Z. Shah et al. / Field Crops Research 83 (2003) 1–11

residues suggested by Schultz (1995) as necessary for soil will depend to a large extent on the relative
soil organic matter maintenance in southern Australia, profitability of both options.
but less than the 5–6 t/ha above- and below-ground
residues required for sustainable wheat cropping
in sub-tropical Australia (Dalal et al., 1995). In our Acknowledgements
study, quantities of above-ground residues varied
substantially, from about 1–2 t/ha per year for the Financial support from the NWFP Agricultural
0N sorghum–wheat rotation with residues removed, University, Peshawar, and the Australian Centre for
to 9–12 t/ha per year for the N-fertilised sorghum– International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is grate-
wheat with residues retained. The 0N sorghum–wheat fully acknowledged.
barely maintained the low organic matter level of the
soil measured at the start of the experiment, compared
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