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J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci.

2016, 000, 17

DOI: 10.1002/jpln.201600043

Effect of phosphorus management in ricemungbean rotations


on sandy soils of Cambodia
Sophoanrith Ro1*, Mathias Becker2, and Gunther Manske1
1
2

Center for Development Research (ZEF), Walter-Flex-Strae 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany


Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation INRES, University of Bonn, Karlrobert-Kreiten-Strasse 13, 53113 Bonn, Germany

Abstract
Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) deficiencies are key constraints in rainfed lowland rice (Oryza
sativa L.) production systems of Cambodia. Only small amounts of mineral N and P or of organic
amendment are annually applied to a single crop of rainfed lowland rice by smallholder farmers.
The integration of leguminous crops in the pre-rice cropping niche can contribute to diversify the
production, supply of C and N, and contribute to soil fertility improvement for the subsequent
crop of rice. However, the performance of leguminous crops is restricted even more than that of
rice by low available soil P. An alternative strategy involves the application of mineral P that is
destined to the rice crop already to the legume. This P supply is likely to stimulate legume growth
and biological N2 fixation, thus enhancing C and N inputs and recycling N and P upon legume
residue incorporation. Rotation experiments were conducted in farmers fields in 20132014 to
assess the effects of P management on biomass accumulation and N2 fixation (d15N) by mungbean (Vigna radiata L.) and possible carry-over effects on rice in two contrasting representative
soils (highly infertile and moderately fertile sandy Fluvisol). In the traditional system (no legume),
unamended lowland rice (no N, + 10 kg P ha1) yielded 2.8 and 4.0 t ha1, which increased to
3.5 and 4.7 t ha1 with the application of 25 kg ha1 of urea-N in the infertile and the moderately
fertile soil, respectively. The integration of mungbean as a green manure contributed up to 9 kg
of biologically fixed N (17% Nfda), increasing rice yields only moderately to 3.54.6 t ha1. However, applying P to mungbean stimulated legume growth and enhanced the BNF contribution up
to 21 kg N ha1 (36% Nfda). Rice yields resulting from legume residue incorporation (green
manure useall residues returned and grain legume useonly stover returned) increased to
4.2 and 4.9 t ha1 in the infertile and moderately fertile soil, respectively. The forage legume
use (all above-ground residues removed) provided no yield effect. In general, legume residue
incorporation was more beneficial in the infertile than in the moderately fertile soil. We conclude
that the inclusion of mungbean into the prevailing low-input rainfed production systems of Cambodia can increase rice yield, provided that small amounts of P are applied to the legume. Differences in the attributes of the two major soil types in the region require a site-specific targeting of
the suggested legume and P management strategies, with largest benefits likely to accrue on infertile soils.
Key words: biological N2 fixation / delta15N / Oryza sativa / rainfed rice/ Vigna radiata

Accepted June 09, 2016

1 Introduction
Rainfed lowland rice is the dominant food crop in the low-input
agricultural systems of Cambodia. The main production area is
characterized by highly weathered sandy Fluvisols with low organic matter and N contents (Seng et al., 2001), extremely low
available P contents, and low-activity material dominating the
clay fraction (White et al., 1997). Mineral fertilizer sources are
often unaffordable to small-scale producers (Blair and Blair,
2014), the efficiency of recommended application rates is
highly variable, and profitability is often low (Seng et al., 2001),
possibly the result of leaching losses of nutrients other than P.
Only low amounts of farmyard manure (FYM) are generally applied due to the limited number of farm animals.

A promising option to overcome C and N limitations may be


the contribution of biomass-C and biologically fixed N from
short-duration legumes grown in the pre-rice cropping niche.
In contrast to mineral fertilizers, legumes can provide phytosanitary effects and reduce native soil N losses (Becker et
al., 2007), and their use is reportedly more efficient than urea
in rainfed production systems on sandy-textured soils (Becker et al., 1995). While mungbean is popular in Cambodia,
widely adopted, and locally accepted as a main crop (McDonagh et al., 1995), its potential use as green manure in the
pre-rice cropping niche as a strategy of sustainable intensification has so far not been explored. While potential benefits
of such strategies have been widely reported (Ladha and
Garrity, 1994), sufficient available P is crucial for legume es-

* Correspondence: S. Ro; e-mail: sophoanrith@yahoo.com

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Ro, Becker, Manske

J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci. 2016, 000, 17

tablishment (Walley et al., 2005) and N2 fixation (Fageria


et al., 2013). Also the P demand and tissue P concentrations
are much higher in mungbean with 0.530.71% P (Jagetiya
et al., 2013) than in rice with 0.180.23% P (Inthapanya et al.,
2000).
Applying the P that is destined to rice to the pre-rice mungbean appears to be a promising strategy. It keeps input costs
low, may stimulate legume growth and N2 fixation and, upon
residue return, can provide C, N, and P for the subsequent
rice crop (Somado et al., 2003). Potential benefits to legumerice rotations are likely to differ between farm types
(resource endowment of households) and growth environments (soil types). A two-year study was conducted in farmers fields to assess (1) the effects of P management on biomass accumulation and N2 fixation by pre-rice mungbean, (2)
effects of legume residue management, and (3) possible
carry-over effects on lowland rice grown on two contrasting
representative soils of Cambodia.

2 Material and methods


Figure 1: Geographical location of the experimental sites in Cambodia.

2.1 Experimental sites


Experiments were conducted in farmers fields in Tram Kak
and Prey Kabas districts of Takeo province in Cambodia in
2013 and 2014. The experimental fields were located on the
two main sandy soil groups, i.e., Prey Khmer (highly infertile
deep sandy soil) and the Prateah Lang (moderately fertile
shallow soil with a sand horizon overlying a loam/clay subsoil;
Fig. 1). The infertile Prey Khmer soil occupies 12% and the
moderately fertile Prateah Lang soil occupies 30% of the total
lowland rice-growing area of Cambodia (White et al., 1997).
While both soils are classified as Fluvisol according to FAO
World Reference Base, USDA classifies the infertile deep

sandy soil as Ultisol and the moderately fertile shallow soil as


Alfisol. Selected characteristics of the experimental soils are
presented in Table 1. In general, the leaching of N (and other
nutrients) is higher in deep than in the shallow sandy soils, resulting in a lower productivity (Bell and Seng, 2007). For the
convenience of description in this paper, the deep sandy Prey
Khmer Fluvisol is referred to as infertile, whereas shallow
sandy Prateah Lang Fluvisol is referred to as moderately fertile soil.

Table 1: Selected attributes of the experimental soils.


Propertya

Infertile sandy Fluvisol (Prey Khmer)

pH (water, 1 : 5)
EC / dS

m1

CEC / cmolc
Total N / g

kg1

kg1

Total organic C / g

kg1

Available P / mg

kg1

Available K / mg

kg1

Sand / %
Silt / %
Clay / %
Texture

class b

Moderately fertile Fluvisol (Prateah Lang)

5.67

5.74

0.03

0.03

1.10

0.44

0.14

0.20

1.22

1.75

<1
2.0

2.30
5.00

92.7

86.3

2.6

8.4

4.7

5.3

Loamy sand

Loamy sand

aBased

on topsoil samples (020 cm); pH and EC measured using a 1 : 5 ratio of soil to water.
Total N and C determined by automatic elemental analyzer. Modified Olsen method.
bTexture determined with the pipet method.

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Phosphorus management in rice-mungbean rotations 3

2.2 Plant material


Mungbean (Vigna radiate L. variety CMB3) was selected as
pre-rice legume due to its short growth duration, wide availability of seeds, and its popularity, wide adoption and local acceptance in rainfed production systems of Cambodia. Mungbean was established at the onset of the first rain between
April 11 and 26 at a 20 cm 20 cm spacing (one seed per hill)
after manual land preparation and left to grow for 56 d during
the dry-to-wet season transition period until June 1523. The
dry weight of both above-ground and root biomass was determined from randomly selected 1 m2 subplots after uprooting
whole plants and oven-drying at 70C for 48 h. The mungbean grain yield was based on 2 m 3 m harvest areas and
adjusted to 12% moisture content.
Certified seeds of lowland rice (Oryza sativa L. variety Phkar
Rumdoul) were obtained from the Cambodian Agricultural
Research and Development Institute. Rice was seeded at a
rate of 6 g m2 into a nursery and 21 d old seedlings were
transplanted between 21 and 26 August at 20 cm 20 cm
spacing into the manually puddled bunded paddy field plots
and harvested between November 24 and December 02. The
grain yield was determined from 2 m 3 m harvest areas in
the center of each plot. The harvested plants were threshed
manually and the yield was expressed at 14% grain moisture.

2.3 Treatment application


At both sites and in both years, a multi-purpose crop of mungbean was grown in the pre-rice niche, either with or without the
application of mineral P. Rice received an equivalent amount
of P when no P had been applied to the legume. The absence
and presence of mineral P was compared with and without
mineral fertilizer N to rice in treatments without pre-rice mungbean (bare fallow during the dry-to-wet season transition peri-

od). In 2014, the management of mungbean residues was further differentiated on the infertile soil only, including the residue
treatments (1) green manure legume with all residues returned, (2) grain legume with only stover returned, and (3)
forage legume with the total above-ground biomass removed. Phosphorus was applied basally at a rate of 10 kg ha1 as
triple superphosphate (TSP, 20% P). In the case of mineral
fertilizer-N treatment, 25 kg of N ha1 were applied as urea in
three equal splits basally, at the maximum tillering, and the
panicle initiation stages. Potassium was uniformly broadcast
basally at 30 kg K ha1 as KCl. The treatments and nutrient application schedules and rates are presented in Table 2. Individual treatment plots of 45 m 45 m were arranged in a
randomized block design using four replications.

2.4 Analyses
Composites of seven topsoil (020 cm) samples per plot
were analyzed for pH and EC using a 1 : 5 ratio of soil and
water (Vernier LabQuest portable meters), total C and N were
determined with an automatic element analyzer (Euro EA
Elemental Analyzer series 3000), available P and K were
determined photometrically after bicarbonate extraction (Olsen method), and the texture was assessed using the pipet
method. To determine the biological N2 fixation by mungbean,
only above-ground plant parts were used for d15N natural
abundance analysis. Maize was used as reference plant. It
was grown in 2 m 1 m micro-plots located within each
mungbean plot and harvested at the same day as the legumes using a 0.6 m 1.0 m sampling frame. Samples of
mungbean and maize were oven-dried at 70C for 48 h, milled
at < 0.1 mm, and analyzed for N isotope ratios in duplicates
at the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation,
Department of Plant Nutrition, University of Bonn, Germany,
using an ANCA-SL 2020 mass spectrometer. The share of N

Table 2: Treatments, seasonal management, and nutrient application in the field experiments. Treatments 14 were applied in both the infertile
and the moderately fertile soil, while treatments 58 were applied only in the highly infertile Fluvisol (Prey Khmer, Cambodia, 2014).
Treatmenta

Pre-rice transition
season treatments

Wet season rice


(NP supply)

Unamended control

Bare fallow

none

0/10

Urea-N +P

Bare fallow

N+P

25/10

Green manure -P

Mungbean P

BNFb-N + P

09/10

Green manure +P

Mungbean + P

BNF-N P

21c/10

Grain legume -P

Mungbean P

BNF-N + P

06/10

Grain legume +P

Mungbean + P

BNF-N P

Forage legume -P

Mungbean P

+P

00d/10

Forage legume +P

Mungbean + P

none

00/10

Total N/P to rotation


/ kg ha1

9c/10

aK

rate of 30 kg K ha1 was uniformly applied to all treatments as KCl.


= biological nitrogen fixation.
cThe amount of N derived from biological N fixation by the mungbean was estimated at 9 and 21 kg N ha1 in green manure and at 9 and
2
6 kg N ha1 in grain legume, with and without P application, respectively. In the case of forage-legume use, all above-ground biomass was
removed.
dIn the forage legume treatment, all biologically fixed N was removed with grains and stover.
bBNF

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derived from the atmosphere (% Ndfa) was calculated as


follows (Amanuel et al., 2000):

3 Results
3.1 Mungbean performance

% Ndfa
d15N of reference plant  d15N of N2 fixing legume
100;
d15N of reference plant  B

The B-value of 3.5% 15N (natural isotopic discrimination)


was applied for mungbean [Crews et al. (unpublished data),
cited by Emerich and Krishan (2009), p. 161] and the belowground N contribution was estimated by multiplying the
above-ground N with a factor of 1.5 as suggested by Peoples
et al. (1989).

The application of P had a significant effect on mungbean


performance (Table 3). The biomass of P-amended mungbean was 1.1 t ha1 compared to 0.8 t ha1 without added P.
In the absence and presence of P application, mungbean
yielded 0.27 and 0.4 t ha1, respectively. Total N accumulation
and shares and amounts of N derived from biological N2 fixation also strongly responded to applied P. Thus, 10 kg P ha1
increased the N2 fixation from 17 to 36% Ndfa compared to
the non-amended green manure. However, the total amount
of N2 fixed from the atmosphere was only 21 and 9 kg ha1
for P-treated and non-P treated mungbean. The N accumulation increased from 31 kg ha1 to 47 kg ha1 when mungbean
received P.

2.5 Statistical analysis

3.2 Rice performance

All data were checked for normality of distribution, statistically


analyzed by ANOVA for significance, and mean values were
separated by least significant difference (LSD). Both ANOVA
and mean comparison were assessed using Statistix 8 (Version 8.0, Analytical Software, 19852003). The data sets with
and without P were additionally compared using Students
t-test (Clive, 2010).

In general, in both years the grain yields of rice ranged from


2.82 to 4.21 t ha1 on the infertile soil and from 4.18 to
4.86 ha1 on the moderately fertile soil (Table 4). The subsequent rice yield was generally higher in mungbean treatments
compared to no-N amendment, irrespective of whether mineral P was applied to pre-rice mungbean or not. Application of
P that is destined to rice already to mungbean increased rice

(1)
N fixed

% Ndf
legume kg ha1 :
100

(2)

Table 3: Effect of P supply on growth, N2 fixation, and yield of the 56 d mungbean (infertile sandy Fluvisol, Cambodia, 2014).
Parameter

0 kg P ha1

10 kg P ha1

Significancea

Dry biomass / kg ha1

781

1090

**

N2 fixation / %Ndfa

17 1.7

36 2.6

**

9 0.1

21 2.6

**

31 2.2

47 4.8

266

404

**

N2 fixation / kg

ha1

N accumulation / kg
Grain yield / kg
a

ha1

ha1

Sig. = Least Significant Difference (LSD), with **P < 1% and *P < 5%. Mean values standard deviation (SD).

Table 4: Effects of a 56 d old pre-rice mungbean crop and of the P application strategy on the grain yield of rainfed lowland rice in two contrasting soils of Cambodia (2013 and 2014).a
Treatment

Infertile Fluvisol (Prey Khmer)

Moderately fertile Fluvisol (Prateah Lang)

2013

2013

2014

2014

Rice grain yield / Mg ha1


Control
(no N, 10 kg P ha1)

2.99 c

2.82 bc

4.18 b

Urea N
(25 kg N and 10 kg P ha1)

3.74 ab

3.45 a

4.70 ab

Mungbean P
(10 kg P ha1 applied to rice)

3.53 bc

3.11 abc

4.71 a

4.61 a

Mungbean +P
(10 kg P ha1 to the legume)

4.21 a

3.61 ab

4.86 a

4.83 a

aValues

followed by same letters in a column are not significantly different at P < 5% by Least Significant Different (LSD).

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Phosphorus management in rice-mungbean rotations 5

yields even further. However, such benefits were only significant in the infertile soil. Thus, the residue management of the
mungbean was further modified in the second year of the
study on the infertile soil only. Irrespective of P application
and residue management, the mungbean significantly increased the yield of the subsequently grown crop of rainfed
rice above the no-N amendment but not above the mineral
N-amended treatments (Table 5). When P was applied to
mungbean instead of rice, both complete (green manure
scenario) and partial (grain legume scenario) residue return
increased the rice grain yield similar to the urea treatment.
However, the complete removal of crop residues (forage legume scenario) showed no effects of rice yield.

3.3 Residual soil P


The available P in the soil after rice harvest varied from 0.30
to 2.32 mg kg1. No differences in residual soil P were observed whether mungbean was cultivated as green manure,
grain legume or forage. However, the residual soil P was
higher when P had been applied to rice rather than to mungbean (Table 5).

4 Discussion
4.1 Benefits from mungbean technology
The present study shows that the integration of mungbean as
a rotation crop during the pre-rice niche in rainfed production
systems of Cambodia is not only feasible but can be highly
beneficial, potentially providing grain as human food, animal

feed, and biomass for green manuring in addition to enhancing rice production. The diverse benefits accruing from cultivating legumes in the pre-rice niche of Asian production systems have been reviewed by Becker (2003). Also, carry-over
effects of P application on subsequent rice crops have been
reported before (Somado et al., 2003) and were observed
here. The applied P was used by mungbean, stored in the
above-ground biomass, and at least partially used for N2 fixation and N accumulation in the biomass. The incorporation of
P-amended mungbean thus not only increased the C and N
cycling, it also enhanced the P supply to and P uptake by
rice, as indicated by low residual soil P contents after one legume-rice cropping cycle (Table 5). Similar carry-over effects
of P have been reported in fallow legumeupland rice rotations in West Africa (Somado et al., 2006) and were shown
here for the first time for legume rotations in rainfed rice in
Asia.
While the present study largely supports the positive reports
on legume benefits, neither the reported time limitation for the
establishment and the incorporation of pre-rice legumes nor
the availability of appropriate legume seeds (Ali and Narciso,
1994) appear to be limiting factors in the Cambodia case.
While the additional labor requirements for land preparation,
legume seeding and biomass incorporation can range from
20 to 62 labor-d ha1, labor-limitations are not perceived as a
constraint to green manure adoption at the current cost of
labor in rural Cambodia of < 5 US$ d1 (unpublished own
survey data). In addition, from a cross-sectional study of
> 250 rice field trials, Becker et al. (1995) showed a comparatively higher N use efficiency of legume residues than of mineral N fertilizers in rainfed environments with sandy soils, con-

Table 5: Effect of P fertilizer and mungbean residue management (green manure, grain, forage uses) on grain yield of rainfed rice and residual
available soil P at the end of the experiment (infertile sandy Fluvisol, Cambodia 2014).
Treatment

P added / kg ha1

N added / kg ha1

Rice yield / t ha1

Residual soil Pb / mg kg1

Control

10

2.82 e

nd

Urea

10

28

3.45 a

1.09 c

Green manure P; Rice +P

10

23 (9)a

3.11 cd

2.32 ab

Green manure +P; Rice P

10

34 (21)

3.41 ab

0.62 cd

Grain legume P; Rice +P

10

16 (6)

3.06 cde

2.26 ab

Grain legume +P; Rice P

10

23 (14)

3.42 ab

0.30 d

Forage legume P; Rice +P

10

2.91 de

1.88 bc

Forage legume +P; Rice P

10

2.80 e

0.41 d

Overall model

**

**

Residue management

**

n.s

P management

**

Residual P management

n.s

Significances

aNumbers in brackets denote amounts of derived from biological N fixation. Different letters in a column denote significant differences at
2
P < 0.05 by Least Significant Different (LSD). Significant at *P < 5% and **P < 1%, respectively.
bResidual available soil P by Olsen method .

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ditions that prevail in the study area. Finally, Olk et al. (2005)
highlight the need for multi-purpose species to maximize legume adoption in rice-based systems. The mungbean in the
present study fulfills these criteria and Southern Cambodia
appears thus an ideal environment for maximizing benefits
and achieving large-scale adoption.

reported low contents in Mg, S, B, and Mo in the infertile sand


(White et al., 1997) are likely causes of low N2 fixation by
mungbean in Cambodia. The supply of these elements in
mineral form are, however, still limited by the lack of commercially available products and uncertainties in the economic
benefits.

4.2 Limitations of mungbean technology

4.2.3 Climate variability

Nevertheless, the current rate of adoption of green manuring


in the rainfed rice systems of Cambodia is low with contributing factors being hypothesized to comprise (1) high site or
soil specificity of legume benefits, (2) limitations of nutrients
other than P, and (3) high rainfall variability in the pre-rice
niche and the resulting uncertainty in the outcome of investments.
4.2.1 Site-specificity
The present study shows that the benefits of mungbean integration appear to be highly dependent on edaphic conditions
and the type of P management. Thus, the yield of rainfed rice
on moderately fertile soils is much higher than the Cambodian
national average and incentives for additional cultivation of legumes for grain, fodder, or green manure may be limited in
such environments. On the other hand, rice yields on the
highly infertile sandy soils were very low and legumes provided an additional 400 kg of bean grain or 1000 kg of highquality forage and up to 1.2 t ha1 more rice yield (Table 5).
Such benefits were, however, restricted to situations in which
at least small amounts of mineral P fertilizer were applied to
the legume. The reported significant effects of P application
on mungbean performance confirm findings of comparable
studies from South Asia (Shahzad and Ali, 2015). Also, comparable P-mediated increases in N content in mungbean
were reported before (Hayat et al., 2008). Mungbean responds strongly to applied P (Singh and Pandey, 2003), particularly in highly P-deficient soils, in terms of grain yield
(Chaudhary and Fujita, 1998), N accumulation (Gunawardena et al., 1992), and seed P content (Naeem et al., 2006).
While effects of P application on mungbean performance
were greater on moderately fertile soils, the carry-over effects
on rice were largely limited to the highly infertile soil. There,
the type of legume use (green manure, grain, forage) further
modified the extent of the effects, with forage uses (all residues removed) providing little benefits to the subsequent crop
of rice. On the other hand, increased forage quality may enhance the availability of farmyard manure that is currently limited by low numbers of cattle among small-scale farmers,
which in turn are constrained by the low forage availability.
4.2.2 Nutrient limitations
In the highly infertile soil with < 1 mg P kg1 a small amount of
applied P increased legume biomass and gain yield (Table 3).
The concomitant stimulation of N2 fixation was, however,
much lower than that reported from other comparable studies,
i.e., from 46 to 66% (Gunawardena et al., 1992) or from 32 to
57% (Hayat et al., 2008). This suggests that elements other
than P may have been limiting in the present study, and the

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In both study years and at each of the study sites, legume failure has been observed in some plots, either due to excessive
rainfall and flooding in 2013 on the infertile soil site or due to
water shortages in 2014 on the moderately fertile soil site
during the dry-to-wet season transition period. Variability in
the onset and the intensity of monsoon rains has increased
during the past decade (Hoyos and Webster, 2007), already
affecting planting dates (Lundqvist and Falkenmark, 2010),
thus, potentially jeopardizing the benefits of suggested technology options. The uncertainty in the outcome of an investment in a pre-rice legume is thus considered to be the main
disincentive for adoption of mungbean technology. The provision of a wider variety of available multi-purpose legume
germplasm may contribute to reduce such limitations.

5 Conclusions
We conclude that the integration of mungbean into the prevailing smallholder rainfed rice-based systems can substitute
mineral fertilizer N, enhance C, N, and P cycling, and increase the yield of rice, provided that small amounts of P are
applied to the legume. Climatic risks of legume failure and differences in soil attributes require a site-specific targeting of
the suggested legume and P management strategies, with
largest benefits likely to accrue in normal years without
early flood or drought, and on infertile soils, which are widespread in the larger Mekong region (Cambodia, Northeast
Thailand, and Laos).

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by grants provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the German Academic Exchange Service
(DAAD) and the fiat panis Foundation, Ulm, Germany under
grant PN29/2014.

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