Document Type



dinitrogen fixation, nitrogen transfer, red clover, orchardgrass


The capacity to fix atmospheric N2 and thus reduce the use of N fertilizer is an important reason for including legumes in forage mixtures. Selection for more efficient N2 fixation could improve red clover (Trifolium prateme L.) (RC) production and its contribution to soil fertility. An isotope dilution study was conducted in two greenhouse experiments to compare the N2 fixation and N transfer potentials of three commercial and one experimental RC cultivars. The experimental cultivar APR-8701 was selected for traits related to increased N2 fixation (rate of acetylene reduction, root size and branch number, and nodule mass). 'Dawn' orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) (OG) was used as the grass in mixture and as the reference crop for the isotope dilution study. Four harvests were taken from each of the two experiments.

Herbage was analyzed first for total N and then for isotopic composition by mass spectrometry. Under the conditions of this study, the particular traits selected for in the development of the cultivar APR-8701 resulted in a high N2 fixation rate, ranging from 88.9 to 99.8 %N derived from the atmosphere (%Ndfa) in pure and mixed stands of both experiments, that paralleled the other three cultivars tested (ranging between 86.8 and 99. 9 %Ndfa in pure and mixed stands of both experiments). However, APR-8701 was average when N transfer potentials were compared. Average %N in grass derived from the atmosphere (%Ngdfa) was 32.2 and 46.3% for OG grown with APR-8701 in experiments 1 and 2, respectively, and ranged between 30. 5 and 50.1% for OG grown with the other three cultivars. We conclude that the experimental cultivar APR-8701 showed N2 fixation rates similar to that of other superior, commercially available cultivars, however, APR-8701 only showed average N transfer capability.

Publication Date

December 1991

Journal Title

Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science





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© Copyright 1991 by the Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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