Improved management compared with traditional practices common in northern Syria for growing field bean (Vicia faba L.), chickpea (Cicer arietinum), lentil (Lens culinaris), peas (Pisum sativum) and vetch (Vicia sativa) was shown to increase significantly (P < 0·001) the crop nitrogen (N) uptake and subsequent protein yields in either hay, grain or straw. This intervention more than doubled N uptake in 1982–3 when averaged over crops and locations increasing from 31·8 kg N/ha under traditional management to 68·7 kg N/ha under improved management. Improved management also increased the proportion of nitrogen uptake that was derived from symbiotic nitrogen fixation by the crop from 55 to 69%. The treatments which gave improved crop N uptake were application of phosphate fertilizer, reduced row spacing and control of weeds. Seed inoculation with rhizobia had little or no effect on N uptake or on the proportion of N that was fixed biologically by the crop. Environmental effects on productivity, as expressed by seasonal and locational differences, were as, or more, important than management-imposed effects.
Differences in N uptake by barley, following either a legume crop or barley, indicated that the residual effects of the legume crop amounted to approximately 10 kg N/ha. This represents a substantial contribution to the N nutrition of a barley crop in the dry areas of northern Syria.
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