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Gary R. Cline and Anthony F. Silvernail

A 4-year field experiment examined how monoculture and biculture winter cover crops were affected by prior inorganic nitrogen (N) fertilization of sweet corn (Zea mays) and by kill dates associated with tillage methods. Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) biomass production and N content remained relatively constant with (N+) or without (N0) prior N application. In N+ treatments, biomass production of winter rye (Secale cereale) and a vetch-rye biculture were significantly greater than vetch biomass production. Rye responded to prior N fertilization and recovered N from residual inorganic N fertilizer at an average annual rate of 30 kg·ha-1 (27 lb/acre), excluding contributions of roots. Nitrogen contents of vetch and biculture cover crops were similar in most years and were significantly greater than those of rye. Nitrogen contents in vetch and biculture treatments were not increased by the residual inorganic N fertilizer addition of the N+ treatment. In the biculture treatment prior N application increased total biomass production but decreased the percentage of vetch biomass. Monoculture vetch biomass production was significantly increased by delaying cover crop kill dates for 8 days in mid-May. However, such delays also significantly lowered vetch foliar N concentrations and consequently did not significantly affect vetch N content. No significant effects of delays on rye or biculture cover crops were detected. It was concluded that prior fertilization of sweet corn with inorganic N affected various cover crops differently and that delaying vetch kill dates 8 days increased biomass production but did not affect N content.

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Benjamin D. Anderson, Gary W. Knox, Ann R. Blount, Cheryl L. Mackowiak, and Edward F. Gilman

Rhizoma peanut has the potential for use as an ecologically friendly groundcover or turf alternative. Little is known about height and cover characteristics of this plant, which are important ornamental considerations. The objectives of this field study were to characterize maximum average canopy height, height variability, the time to reach full canopy cover, and the time at full canopy cover of seven released and nine experimental selections of rhizoma peanut grown in full sun or under 30% shade at two North Florida locations. Greater height and a less uniform canopy were observed for shaded plants. Establishment, as measured by full canopy cover, did not occur until the second year after planting. Shade treatment had little effect on the time to reach full canopy cover or the duration of full canopy cover, indicating that rhizoma peanut will perform equally in full sun or under 30% shade. Recommended selections for ornamental use based on these variables include ‘Brooksville 67’, ‘Brooksville 68’, EX3, and EX8.

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Gary R. Cline and Anthony F. Silvernail

Effects of tillage, inorganic N, and winter cover crops on sweet corn (Zea mays) were examined in 1994, 1995, and 1996. Tillage treatments were tillage or no tillage, and N treatments were the addition of inorganic N at 0 (N0) or 200 (N+) kg·ha-1 (0 or 179 lb/acre). Winter cover crops included hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), winter rye (Secale cereale), and a vetch/rye biculture. In the N0, rye treatment, the soil was N deficient in 1994 and highly N deficient in 1995 and 1996. When vetch shoot N content was ≥150 kg·ha-1 (134 lb/acre) (1994 and 1995), addition of inorganic N did not increase corn yields, and it only increased corn foliar N concentrations by 8%. Reductions in corn yields (29%) and foliar N concentrations (24%) occurred when vetch shoot N content was only 120 kg·ha-1 (107 lb/acre) (1996) and inorganic N was not supplied. In 1994, the vetch/rye biculture supplied sufficient N for maximum corn yields, but addition of inorganic N increased yields by more than 50% in 1995 and 1996. Under tilled conditions, the vetch N contribution to corn appeared to equal (1996) or exceed (1994 and 1995) 82 kg·ha-1 (73 lb/acre) of N supplied as ammonium nitrate, whereas a mean value of 30 kg·ha-1 (27 lb/acre) was obtained for the biculture cover crop (1995 and 1996). No significant effects of tillage on sweet corn population densities were detected following vetch, but no-tillage significantly reduced corn population densities following rye (17%) or biculture (35%) cover crops compared to tillage. No-tillage did not reduce yields from emerged seedlings (per plant basis) for any cover crops. Vetch appeared to be a satisfactory N source for sweet corn when vetch N content was ≥150 kg·ha-1, and it could be used with no-tillage without yield reductions.

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Janet McCray Batzli, William R. Graves, and Peter van Berkum

Our objectives were to test whether Maackia amurensis Rupr. & Maxim. nodulates and fixes N and to characterize the N-fixing bacteria effective with this host. Soil samples were collected near diverse legume trees at arboreta and public gardens in the United States, Canada, and China. Seedlings of M. amurensis were grown for 6 weeks in a low-N, sterile medium and inoculated with soil samples. At harvest, nodules were found on the lateral and upper portions of root systems. Bacteria were isolated from nodules and subculture. Roots of seedlings inoculated with all 11 of these isolates nodulated and freed N, confirming that the isolates were rhizobial bacteria. Growth of isolates in axenic culture generally was poor when single sources of C were provided. Generation times of the isolates ranged from 6 to 10 hours, and all isolates raised the pH of culture media. Isolates were highly resistant to several antibiotics, showed no 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD) or β-galactosidase activity, and were highly sensitive to NaCl. These results provide the first evidence that M. amurensis has the capacity to form N-fixing symbioses with rhizobial bacteria and indicate that the bacteria are Bradyrhizobium sp.

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Şurhan Göl, Sami Doğanlar, and Anne Frary

( Hacıseferoğulları et al., 2003 ). Moreover, it is a perfect rotational crop because the nitrogen fixing bacteria in its roots help to enhance soil productivity. Indeed, faba bean is one of the most efficient temperate legumes in terms of nitrogen fixation ( Phillips

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William R. Graves' and Wilhelmina van de Poll

The capacity to form nitrogen-fixing symbioses with rhizobia is common among species in the Papilionoideae subfamily of the Leguminosae, but nodulation and nitrogen fixation have never been documented in Cladrastis kentukea (Dum.-Cours.) Rudd (American yellowwood). The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that C. kentukea is nodulated by rhizobia. Seedlings were grown in sterile vermiculite and irrigated with a nitrogen-free nutrient solution. In one experiment, the vermiculite was inoculated with rhizobia that nodulate Maackia amurensis Rupr. & Maxim., a closely related tree species. During a second experiment, the vermiculite was inoculated with samples of soil collected near trees of C. kentukea in a native stand in Alexander County, Illinois. There were no nodules on roots of seedlings harvested 6 weeks after inoculation in either experiment. These results represent strong additional evidence that C. kentukea does not form nitrogen-fixing symbioses with rhizobia.

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John L. Jifon and David W. Wolfe

The widely observed reduction in photosynthetic (Pn) capacity following long-term exposure to elevated CO2 is believed to result from an imbalance in source–sink status. We hypothesized that nitrogen fixation in root nodules would provide a strong sink for photosynthate and lead to a sustained positive photosynthetic response to elevated CO2. Bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris L., cv Redkloud) were grown in poly chambers at one of four combinations of temperature (35/21 or 26/15°C day/night), and CO2 (350 or 700 ppm). Half the plants in each chamber were inoculated with Rhizobium and fertilized with a complete nutrient solution lacking nitrogen; control plants received a similar solution with nitrogen. Total nitrogenase activity (acetylene reduction assay; 8 weeks after planting) of excised whole root systems was stimulated (up to 4-fold) by elevated CO2, but this response was only significant for 26/15°C-grown plants. Inoculated plants also accumulated more biomass (10%) than control plants. Nodule abundance and size were significantly higher in high CO2-grown plants than ambient CO2 plants, but the Pn capacity of inoculated plants was only slightly greater than that of control plants. Averaged across other treatments, high CO2-grown plants accumulated more biomass (42%) and had higher Pn rates (50%) than ambient CO2 plants. Treatment effects on leaf carbohydrate levels and Pn acclimation to CO2 were not consistent. The results suggest that the higher total nodule activity was due to increased nodule number and size in proportion with increased plant size under high CO2, rather than an increase in nitrogenase activity per nodule. It is also evident that plants with symbiotic nitrogen fixation capability can benefit from elevated CO2, even with reduced input of inorganic nitrogen.

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Lih-Yuh Yueh and David L. Hensley

The influence of 12 pesticides on acetylene reduction (N2 fixation) and modulation of soybean (Glycine max L. Merrill cv. Williams 82) and lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus L. cv. Geneva) was evaluated. All pesticides except diazinon were found to be harmless to nitrogen fixation at 3× the manufacturer's recommended rate, Diazinon significantly decreased C2H2 reduction of soybean 2 days after application, but not after 7 days or at normal label rates, Acetylene reduction of excised nodules imbibed with diazinon indicated that the chemical may have affected nitrogenase function directly. Soybean nodule counts were significantly decreased by application of 3× rates of methomyl and trifluralin, whereas lima bean nodule counts were decreased only by trifluralin. Tritluralin also depressed soybean modulation at label rates, but had no effect on lima bean modulation. Methomyl was innocuous to soybean modulation at the recommended label rate. Both chemicals were nontoxic to Bradyrhizobium/Rhizobium sp. based on a disc inhibition study. Chemical names used: O,O -diethyl O -(2isopropyl-4-methyl-6-pyrimidinyl phosphorothiote (diazinon); S-Methul- N -((methylcarbamoyl)oxy)-thioacetimidate (methomyl); a,a,a -Trifluoro-2-6dinitro-N-N -dipropyl-p-toluidine (triflnralin).

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Michel R. Wiman, Elizabeth M. Kirby, David M. Granatstein, and Thomas P. Sullivan

Living mulch cover crops can improve soil health and build organic matter, yet their use in fruit orchards comes with a risk of encouraging meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus), a rodent that can be destructive to fruit trees. Several living mulch cover crop species were assessed in an apple (Malus ×domestica) orchard understory along with wood chip mulch and bare ground. Desired species characteristics were weed competitiveness, low growth habit, nitrogen fixation, and potential rodent repellency. Legume species included birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), medic (Medicago spp.), and subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum), which were planted in solid stands as well as mixtures. Nonlegume species included sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum), and colonial bentgrass (Agrostis tenuis). Meadow vole presence was evaluated in fall and spring with point-intersect and run-length measurements. A legume mix (medic, birdsfoot trefoil, subterranean clover, and colonial bentgrass) had the highest meadow vole presence, with no reduction under the “sandwich” system of tilling either side of the tree trunks while leaving a cover crop in a narrow strip with the trunks. The nonlegume mix [colonial bentgrass, sweet alyssum, creeping thyme, and fivespot (Neomophila maculata)] had similar results. However, the sweet woodruff (planted in the “sandwich” system) had significantly lower presence of meadow voles than the other living mulches. Wood chip mulch, cultivation, and bare ground control were all similar, with very low presence, indicating low risk of meadow vole damage. The results from the sweet woodruff suggest that we need more research on the potential to select living mulches that are nonattractive or repellent to meadow voles for use in orchards.

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Heidi A. Kratsch and William R. Graves

Although many species of Alnus Miller grow in wet soils, none is as closely associated with low-oxygen, waterlogged soils as Alnus maritima (Marsh.) Muhl. ex Nutt. (seaside alder). An actinorhizal species with promise for use in horticultural landscapes, land reclamation, and sustainable systems, A. maritima associates with Frankia Brunchorst, thereby forming root nodules in which gaseous nitrogen is fixed. Our objective was to determine how root-zone moisture conditions influence the occurrence, location, and anatomy of nodules on A. maritima. Plants of Alnus maritima subsp. maritima Schrader and Graves were established in root zones with compatible Frankia and subjected to four moisture regimens (daily watered/drained, partially flooded, totally flooded, and totally flooded with argon bubbled through the flood water) for 8 weeks. Oxygen content of the root zone, number and location of nodules on root systems, and dry weight and nitrogen content of shoots were determined. Root-zone oxygen content ranged from 17.3 kPa for daily watered/drained plants to 0.9 kPa for argon-treated plants. Across all treatments, 87% of the nodules were within the upper one-third (4 cm) of the root zone. Although shoot dry weights of daily watered/drained and partially flooded plants were not different, daily watered/drained plants had more nitrogen in their leaves (2.53 vs. 2.21 mg·g-1). Nodulation occurred in all treatments, but nodules on totally flooded roots (with or without argon) were limited to a single lobe; in contrast, multilobed nodules were prevalent on partially flooded and daily watered/drained plants. Frankia infection within submerged nodule lobes was limited to one or two layers of cortical cells. Submerged nodules developed large air spaces between cortical cells, and phenolic-containing cells appeared to inhibit Frankia expansion within the nodule. These data suggest that access to root-zone oxygen is critical to the Frankia-A. maritima subsp. maritima symbiosis, and that plants of this subspecies in the drained soils of managed landscapes may benefit more than plants in native wetland habitats from nodulation and nitrogen fixation.