Belowground Contributions of Pea and Canola to Soil Nitrogen Pools and Processes
Nitrogen (N) contained in roots and rhizodeposits represents a significant input of crop residue-N into soil that is often unaccounted, despite its contribution to the total N budget and its influence on soil nutrient cycling. Utilizing 15N-labeling methodologies under controlled conditions, the goal of this research was to quantify the input of belowground N (BGN), including rhizodeposits and roots, to soil and to investigate the influence of BGN on soil N cycling processes from the major pulse and oilseed crop grown across the Canadian prairies—namely, field pea and canola, respectively. Using continuous 15N2 labeling, the input of fixed-N to rhizosphere soil from pea plants amounted to less than 2% of the total plant N assimilated via fixation. Nodulation and root 15N enrichment were positively related to rhizosphere 15N enrichment, suggesting that the relatively low input of fixed-N to soil was due to low N fixation in this system. Shoot 15N-labeling techniques enabled a higher 15N enrichment in roots; as a result, rhizodeposition was detected in the rhizosphere as well as the surrounding bulk soil. Rhizodeposition accounted for 7.6 and 67% of plant N and BGN, respectively, in mature pea. Temporal changes in the pattern of rhizodeposition were detected as evidenced by differing 15N enrichment in rhizosphere versus bulk soils. In comparison to pea, a higher proportion of BGN contributed to the total residue-derived N from canola. The higher quantity of N rhizodeposition by canola was related to greater root biomass. However, pea rhizodeposition contributed more to soil inorganic N pools; this was sustained over time, as a higher proportion of pea BGN contributed to the growth of a subsequent wheat crop. In addition, wheat uptake of residue-derived N was twice as much from belowground compared to straw residues. Whereas the abundance of denitrifying bacterial communities in the rhizosphere was uncoupled from rhizodeposition and denitrification enzyme activity (DEA), root-derived 15N correlated with DEA in pea and canola. This research highlights the importance of belowground inputs from differing crop species on N budgets and soil N cycling.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorFarrell, Richard; Knight, J. D.
CommitteeWalley, Fran; Lemke, Reynald; Bonham-Smith, Peta; Siciliano, Steven; Bedard-Haughn, Angela
Copyright DateJune 2013