Original Articles

Influence of single applications of nitrogen on white clover nitrogen fixation in autumn and winter dairy pastures in south‐west Victoria, Australia

DOI: 10.1080/10220119.1998.9647933
Author(s): F.R. McKenzieDepartment of Natural Resources and Environment, Australia, J.L. JacobsDepartment of Natural Resources and Environment, Australia, P. RiffkinDepartment of Natural Resources and Environment, Australia, G. KearneyDepartment of Natural Resources and Environment, Australia

Abstract

Effects of nitrogen (N) (0, 15, 30, 45 and 60 kg N ha−1) applied at five different times during autumn and early winter on the N fixation of Trifolium repens L. (white clover) in Lolium perenne L. (perennial ryegrass) / white clover pastures were examined (Experiment 1). Effects of applying different N fertilisers (e.g. urea and ammonium nitrate) at 45 kg N ha−1 in autumn, with and without phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and sulphur (S) on N fixation were also tested (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, percentage N derived from the atmosphere (percent Ndfa) by white clover varied between 87% and 91% in the period after (24 to 36 days) N application. Increasing rates of N and time of application did not influence percent Ndfa. The amount of N fixed by white clover ranged from 0.8 to 3.7 kg N ha−1 in the period after N application. Increasing rates of applied N produced a significant (P<0.05) linear increase in the amount of N fixed. In Experiment 2, percent Ndfa and amount of N fixed (1.9 to 4.1 kg N ha−1) were unaffected by different N fertilisers, with and without P, K and S, in the period after (37 days) fertiliser application. For both experiments, fertiliser N increased dry matter yield while having no effect on white clover composition. It is concluded that single applications of N during the autumn and early winter benefit pasture growth without adversely affecting white clover N fixation or clover composition. This finding, however, will require further investigation.

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