The Role of Green Manure Nitrogen Use by Corn and Sugarcane Crops in Brazil
Three assays were developed from April 3, 1995 to October 10, 2005. The work with corn was conducted in a greenhouse, using velvet bean (Mucuna aterrima) and sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) as green manure with 15N labeling of either shoots or roots, in two soils with con- trasting textural classes. The mineralization of N from legume plants incorporated into the two soils was investigated too. This work included two green manures: velvet bean and sunn hemp, and the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) residues. Nitrogen from the velvet bean ac- counted for a greater proportion of the soil in- organic N; shoots were responsible for most of N accumulated. Common bean residues caused immobilization of inorganic N. The leguminous species added were intensively and promptly mineralized, preserving the soil native nitrogen. One hundred days after emergence of the corn, velvet bean provided higher accumulation of nitrogen in the soil, higher absorption by corn plants and accumulation in the aerial part. The green manure decomposition was more intense in the medium textured soil. In this soil, highest nitrogen losses were also observed. The sug- arcane (Saccharum spp.) was cultivated for five years in the field and was harvested three times; 15N recovery was evaluated in the first two har- vests. The combination of inorganic fertilizer and green manure resulted in higher sugarcane yields than either N source applied separately; however, in the second cutting the yields were higher where sunn hemp was used than in plots with ammonium sulfate. The recovery of N by the first two consecutive harvests accounted for 19% to 21% of the N applied as sunn hemp and 46% to 49% of the N applied as ammonium sul- fate. Very little inorganic N was present in the 0 - 40 cm soil layer with both N sources.