NITROGEN USE IN AN ASPARAGUS/LIVING MULCH CROPPING SYSTEM

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.

Seedlings of Syn 4-56 hybrid asparagus were planted in May, 1990 on loamy sand in the irrigated Central Sands region of Wisconsin. Treatments were unsuppressed living mulches of perennial ryegrass, Dutch white clover, a mixture of ryegrass and clover and cultivated bare ground. Ammonium nitrate was banded at rates of 90, 45, and 0 kg/ha across all treatments. Measurements of weed populations, asparagus growth, and soil and tissue nitrogen levels were made in 1990 and 1991. Soil nitrate and ammonium levels were measured in 30 cm increments to a depth of 90cm. In 1990, asparagus fern growth was greater in the bare ground controls than in any of the mulch treatment plots. In 1991, asparagus growth in the clover-based mulches was greater than that in the ryegrass mulch, although also still less than that of the bare ground control. Total accumulated nitrogen in clover-based mulch plots at the end of each season was more than twice the level of that of either the grass mulch or the cultivated plots. Percent nitrogen in asparagus tissue varied with mulch treatment: in 1991, the %N was higher in the asparagus tissue grown with clover than either that grown with the grass or on bare ground. Weed control in all mulch plots was good; in clover plots it was nearly 100%.

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