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New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research


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Phosphorus absorption capacity of Lotus corniculatus and Festuca arundinacea during sward establishment
A. T. Ayala Torales , V. A. Deregibus & P. R. Moauro
a a a a

Catedra de Forrajicultura, Facultad de Agronomia , Universidad de Buenos Aires , (1417) Av San Martn 4453, Capital Federal, Repblica Argentina Published online: 17 Mar 2010.

To cite this article: A. T. Ayala Torales , V. A. Deregibus & P. R. Moauro (1998) Phosphorus absorption capacity of Lotus corniculatus and Festuca arundinacea during sward establishment, New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 41:3, 307-312, DOI: 10.1080/00288233.1998.9513315 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00288233.1998.9513315

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New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 1998, Vol. 41: 307-312 0028-8233/98/4103-0307 $7.00/0 The Royal Society of New Zealand 1998

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Phosphorus absorption capacity of Lotus corniculatus and Festuca arundinacea during sward establishment

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A. T. AYALA TORALES V. A. DEREGIBUS P. R. MOAURO Catedra de Forrajicultura Facultad de Agronomia Universidad de Buenos Aires (1417) Av San Martn 4453 Capital Federal, Repblica Argentina

INTRODUCTION Phosphorus absorption by plants is related to root surface nutrient supply and to root nutrient absorption capacity (Barber 1982). As the level of phosphorus in the soil solution increases, the relative importance of absorption capacity in the regulation of plant nutrient acquisition also increases (Chapin 1980). Application of fertiliser at sowing time enhances nutrient soil concentration and diffusion, and phosphorus absorption by seedlings is thus promoted during sward establishment (Plucknett 1970; Keya 1973). To reach a growth stage that ensures survival (Pearson & Ison 1994), legumes greatly depend on the ability to acquire phosphorus, and phosphorus availability is a determinant of establishment success (Tremmel & Bazzaz 1995). It has been reported that certain legumes, such as Lupinus spp. Lotuspedunculatus, andZ. angustissimus, are able to absorb more phosphorus per unit of root biomass, a feature that is associated with the success of these species during the critical establishment period (Loneragan&Asher 1967; Biddiscombe et al. 1969; Caradus 1980). This is particularly important when legumes are sown mixed with grasses that are able to grow at higher rates and to produce double or triple the root densities of legumes in the top 20 cm of the soil profile (Schwendiman et al. 1966). Lotus corniculatus (broadleaf birdsfoot trefoil) and Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue) are currently sown in P-deficient soils of low agricultural use in temperate humid Pampas of Argentina, in mixed swards of great longevity and productivity (Castano & Mifion 1990). As tall fescue growth rates are consistently higher than those of trefoil (Seaney & Hanson 1970; Gastal et al. 1992), it seems that legumes may have a higher than usual level of phosphorus absorption to attain effective nutrient acquisition during initial growth stages. We therefore hypothesised that Lotus corniculatus seedlings might withstand Festuca arundinacea competition through a greater phosphorus root absorption capacity per unit of root

Abstract

Lotus corniculatus and Festuca

arundinacea are currently sown in phosphorus deficient soils of the mesothermal humid Pampas, in Argentina. We hypothesised that the legume seedlings might withstand competition from grass through greater phosphorus root absorption capacity which would result in higher nutrient acquisition, and compared phosphorus absorption capacity and total phosphorus acquisition of both species at increasing levels of P supply during seedling establishment. Plants grown in a greenhouse were harvested 40 days after sowing. Biomass productivity and phosphorus content of shoots and roots were used to calculate phosphorus absorption capacity per unit of root biomass and phosphorus acquisition per plant. Birdsfoot trefoil showed higher root phosphorus absorption capacity at P supply up to 25 ppm in soil (P < 0.05), which resulted in nutrient acquisition similar to tall fescue although trefoil showed lower root biomass over all levels of P supply (P < 0.05). The higher phosphorus absorption capacity plus higher root tissue phosphorus concentration of trefoil (P supply up to 100 ppm, P < 0.05) may assist legume establishment in mixed swards with tall fescue.

Keywords Lotus

corniculatus;

Festuca

arundinacea; phosphorus fertilisation; phosphorus absorption capacity; phosphorus acquisition


A97051 Received 29 July 1997; accepted 4 May 1998

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New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 1998, Vol. 41


Fig. 1 Dry matter production of A, shoots and B, roots of Lotus

corniculatus and + Festuca


arundinacea 40 days after sowing. Shoots: L. corniculatus: y = 0.4+0.0 lx0.000007x 2 , R2 0.98, SD 0.0017 L. arundinacea: y = 0.6+0.02x0.00013X2, R2 0.80, SD 0.0042 *, P<0.05. Roots: L. corniculatus: y = 0.3+0.OIJC0.000048*2, & 0.97, SD 0.001 F. arundinacea: y = 0.5+0.01x0.000048*2, Ri 0.83, SD 0.003 *,P<0.05.
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biomass, which would result in higher nutrient acquisition. The objective of this work was to compare root phosphorus absorption capacity and total plant phosphorus acquisition of Lotus corniculatus and Festuca arundinacea seedlings at increasing levels of P supply. MATERIALS AND METHODS Soil which was low in P was obtained from the upper horizon ( 10 cm deep) of a site in the Flooding Pampa region, Buenos Aires (38S, 57W).

Chemical properties of the soil were pH 6.7; total C 3.2%; total N 0.26%; extractable P 2.7 ppm; Ca 12.6 me.%; Mg 5.0 me.%; Na 1.2 me.% and K 1.5 me.%. Air-dried soil samples were placed into polyethylene bags and mixed thoroughly with a basal nutrient solution, applied to avoid any other nutritional deficiency: Ca(NO3) 2 .4H 2 O (75 mg kg-1), K2SO4 (150 mg kg"1), MgSO4.7H2O (37.3 mg kg" 1 ), FeSO 4 .7H 2 O (7.5 mg kg" 1 ), MnSO4.H2O (4.8 mg kg- 1 ), CuSO4.5H2O (3.73 mg kg"1), ZnSO4.7H2O (3.73 mg kg"1), H3BO3 (2.22 mg kg" 1 ), NH 4 (Mo 7 O 27 ).4H 2 O (0.09 mg kg"1) (Ozanne 1969). P was added as a solution of

Ayala Torales et al.Phosphorus absorption capacity of two forage species Fig. 2 Phosphorus concentration in A, shoots and B, roots of Lotus comiculatus and + Festuca arundinacea 40 days after sowing. Shoots: L. comiculatus: y = 0.078, SD 0.0053 F. arundinacea: y = 20.05 + 0.0008;t-0.000006x , R2 0.92, SD 0.003 *,P<0.05. Roots: L. comiculatus: y = 0.040.0000012.x2, R2 0.73, SD 0.005

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F. arundinacea: y = 0.03 + 0.00014* R2, 0.65, SD 0.003 *, P<0.05.

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:wx x

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P supply (ppm in soil) K2HPO4, to obtain thirteen levels of additional P supply equivalent to 0, 1,2,4, 8, 15, 20,25,30,35, 40, 60, and 100 ppm in soil. Seeds of Lotus comiculatus and of Festuca arundinacea were treated with fungicide (Thiram) to prevent contamination. Birdsfoot trefoil was inoculated with appropriate Rhizobium cultures. Ten seeds were sown into each pot (1500 g of soil per pot), and all pots were placed in a greenhouse. Three pots were allocated to each level of fertiliser treatment. Daily watering maintained the soil at 75% field capacity. Seedlings were thinned to five uniform plants per pot. When harvested 40 days after sowing, plants were sectioned into shoots and roots which were dried for 48 hours at 70C, and weighed. Tissue P concentrations were determined by the method of Haslemore & Rougham (1976). Biomass (g dry matter per plant) and phosphorus content (%) of shoots and roots were used to calculate phosphorus absorption capacity (mg per unit of root biomass), and phosphorus acquisition (mg P per plant). A randomised experimental design was used, with

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1.8 O) 1.6 1.4 * 1.2
A

New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 1998, Vol. 41 Fig. 3 Phosphorus acquisition (A) and Phosphorus absorption capacity (B) of Lotus corniculatus and + Festuca arundinacea 40 days after sowing. P acquisition: L. corniculatus: y = 0.4 + 0.02JC+0.0000086JC2, R2 0.96, SD 0.00048 F. arundinacea: y = 0.5+0.02x0.000014*2, R2 0.92, SD 0.00036 P absorption capacity: L. corniculatus: y = 1.4+0.0\x0.0002lx2, ^ 0 . 9 5 , SD 0.004 F. arundinacea: y = 1.1+0.01JC0.000067X2, R2 0.88, SD 0.002 *,P<0.05.

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three replications. Data were fitted by polynomial regressions using the Stepwise method of selection of variables (Hunt & Parsons 1974). Significant differences between mean values were estimated by Tukey test (P < 0.05). RESULTS The total biomass of both species increased in response to phosphorus addition. Tall fescue shoot and root biomass were significantly higher than those of trefoil over all levels of P supply (Fig. 1). Phosphorus concentrations were consistently higher in trefoil roots than those of tall fescue (Fig. 2).

Phosphorus acquisition increased in both species in response to increasing levels of P, but was not significantly different between the species. Trefoil absorption capacity was higher than tall fescue up to 25 ppm (Fig. 3). DISCUSSION The general principle that grass exploits a greater volume of soil because of its larger and denser root system (Evans 1970; Mays & Bengston 1974; Caradus 1980; Hart 1981), holds for the first 40 days after sowing. However, the higher root P absorption capacity of trefoil (Fig. 3) compensates its less effective exploitation of this nutrient in the

Ayala Torales et al.Phosphorus absorption capacity of two forage species soil (Fitter 1987). Thus, the fact that grass seedlings exploit a greater soil volume (Fig. 1) (Evans 1970) does not guarantee an initial competitive advantage through nutrient acquisition (Chapin et al. 1986; Koide 1991). Nutrient demand to support growth is one of the major determinants of phosphate absorption rate (Clarkson & Hanson 1980). Although trefoil plants grew less than tall fescue, the presence of active root nodules in all plants at the entire range of P supply may have resulted in an additional demand. Phosphorus concentration in nodules (up to 45% of root phosphorus) is required by ATP for nitrogen fixation (Hart 1982). Such a sink is absent in fescue plants, which are totally reliant on soil mineral nitrogen. If the supply allows, P is accumulated to a greater degree than is necessary to satisfy plant growth (Bieleski 1973) because of the need for infection and N-fixing in legumes (Briggs 1990). The higher phosphorus concentration in root tissues of trefoil (Fig. 2) may be causally related to its lower yields as phosphorus in nodules becomes unavailable for metabolism elsewhere (Hart 1982). Although phosphorus sequestration by nodules prevents the translocation of internal nutrient reserves to active growing points as was suggested by Koide ( 1991 ), this process guarantees establishment success of trefoil. Whether higher phosphorus accumulation per unit of root mass of trefoil means a competitive advantage, requires further studies and analysis. Specific and long-term studies are particularly necessary when comparing competitive ability among species with very different growth rates (Gerry & Wilson 1995). Several studies have found indirect evidence that initial plant size, expressed either as biomass or height, determines competitive ability (Miller & Werner 1987; Grace et al. 1992), particularly where environments are nutrient-rich and shady. Sites of intermediate productivity, such as those with soils of low agricultural use in the pampean region, may experience varying degrees of both above- and below-ground competition (Wilson 1993). At some position along this gradient, higher phosphorus absorption capacity of trefoil roots may assist the legume to start in mixed swards with tall fescue. The hypothesis proposed was partially proved. The higher phosphorus absorption capacity of trefoil roots resulted in nutrient acquisition per plant similar to tall fescue although trefoil had less root biomass. The higher phosphorus absorption

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capacity of trefoil may assist early seedling establishment, specially at low P availabilities. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS Our results indicate that sowing trefoil and fescue in alternate rows and placing phosphate fertiliser beneath the legume seeds may be of benefit in establishing mixed pastures. The proximity of applied fertiliser and legume seedlings will enhance nutrient uptake (Sleight et al. 1984) through rapid root-nutrient contact (Eghball & Sander 1989). Thus, competition between tall fescue and trefoil roots may be reduced by this sowing design.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This research was funded by grant number AG 038 from Science and Technology, University of Buenos Aires. REFERENCES Barber, S. A. 1982: Soil-plant-root relationships determining phosphorus uptake. In: Scaife, A. ed. Proceedings of the Ninth Nutrition International Plant Colloquium. Vol. I. United Kingdom, CAB. Pp. 39-50. Biddiscombe, E. R; Ozanne, P. G.; Barrow, N. J.; Keay, J. 1969: A comparison of growth rates and phosphorus distribution in a range of pasture species. Australian journal of agricultural research 20: 1023-1033. Bieleski, R. L. 1973: Phosphate pools, phosphate transport, and phosphate availability. Annual review of plant physiology 24: 225-252. Briggs, M. A. 1990: Chemical defense production in Lotus corniculatus. The effects of nitrogen source on growth, reproduction and defense. Oecologia 83: 27-31. Caradus, J. 1980: Distinguishing between grass and legume species for efficiency of phosphorus use. New Zealandjournal of agricultural research 23: 75-81. Castano, J.; Min, D. P. 1990: Mezclas forrajeras para suelos de baja aptitud agricola. Revista Argentina de Produccin Animal 10, Supl. 1: 29-30. Chapin, F. S. III 1980: The mineral nutrition of wild plants. Review of ecology and systemathics 11: 233-260. Chapin, F. S. III; van Cleve, K.; Tyron, P. R. 1986: Relationship of ion absorption to growth rate in taiga trees. Oecologia 69: 238-242. Clarkson, D. T; Hanson, J. B. 1980: The mineral nutrition of higher plants. Annual review of plant physiology 57: 239-298.

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Koide, R. T. 1991 : Nutrient supply, nutrient demand and plant response to mycorrhizal infection. New phytologist 117: 365-386. Loneragan, H.; Asher, C. 1967: Response of plants to phosphate concentration in solution culture. II. Rate of phosphate absorption and its relation to growth. Soil science 103: 311-317. Mays, D. A.; Bengtson, G. W. 1974: Fertilizer effects on forage crops in Northeast Alabama. Fertilizer Division Center bulletin 74. Miller, T. E.; Werner, P. A. 1987: Competitive effects and responses between plant species in a firstyear-old field community. Ecology 68: 12011210. Ozanne, P. G.; Keay, J.; Biddiscombe, E. F. 1969: The comparative applied phosphate requirements of eight annual pasture species. Australian journal of agricultural research 20: 809-817. Pearson, C. J.; Ison, R. H. 1994: Crecimiento vegetativo. In: Agronomia de los Sistemas Pastoriles. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Pp. 30-31. Plucknett, D. 1970: Productivity of tropical pastures in Hawaii. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Grassland Congress, Queensland, Australia. Pp. A38-A49. Schwendiman, J. L.; Foster, R. B.; Haglund, O. K. 1966: The influence of climate, soils and management on the root development of grass species in western states. In: Proceedings of Annual Meeting American Forage and Grassland Council, New Orleans. Pp. 40-57. Seaney, R. R.; Hanson, P. R. 1970: Birdsfoot trefoil. Advances in agronomy 22: 120-153. Sleight, D. M.; Sander, D. H.; Peterson, G. A. 1984: Effect of fertilizer phosphorus placement on the availability of phosphorus. Soil Science Society of America journal 48: 336-340. Tremmel, D. C ; Bazzaz, F. A. 1995: Plant architecture and allocation in different neighborhoods: implications for competitive success. Ecology 76:

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