Effects of different legume green manures on tropical soil microbiology after corn harvest






ABSTRACT Legume green manure is a popular practice for sustainable agriculture in tropical environments. The use of grain, forage and purely green manure legumes in a subhumid tropical area in Northeast Brazil was investigated to determine the total C and N contents and estimate C-microbial biomass, soil basal respiration, microbial and metabolic quotients, before and after green manures and after the following corn. It was hypothesized that, although all legumes would increase microbial biomass and activity, there would be different effects in function of the main economic usage of the legume. The experimental design evaluated the soil before and after harvest of seven legumes: (i) purely green manures – sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) and velvet bean (Stizolobium aterrimum Piper & Tracy); (ii) forage – Campo Grande stylo (a physical mixture of 80% of Stylosanthes captata Vog. and 20% of Stylosanthes macrocephala) and calopo (Calopogonium mucunoides Dev.) and (iii) grain – common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) and peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.), followed by corn crop. After corn harvest, soils had the same total C and N contents before legume seeding, but C-microbial biomass was significantly higher in soils with grain and purely green manures, which produced higher shoot and root dry mass. Soil basal respiration decreased after corn harvest for all legumes comparing to control treatments, but metabolic stress increased in soils with forage species. Despite this, microbial quotient indicated an efficiency of the microorganisms in degrading the residual organic matter of all green manures used in corn.

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