action ( Marcias et al., 2007 ; Putnam and Tang, 1986 ). Sunn hemp has rapid stand establishment and shoot biomass accumulation and thus is a suitable cover crop for weed suppression. A leguminous cover crop, sunn hemp obtains nitrogen through biological
Alyssa H. Cho, Carlene A. Chase, Danielle D. Treadwell, Rosalie L. Koenig, John Bradley Morris and Jose Pablo Morales-Payan
Robert L. Meagher Jr., Rodney N. Nagoshi, James T. Brown, Shelby J. Fleischer, John K. Westbrook and Carlene A. Chase
Sunn hemp, Crotalaria juncea L., is a warm-season legume that is planted before or after a vegetable cash crop to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil ( Cherr et al., 2006 , 2007 ; Mansoer et al., 1997 ; Wang et al., 2005 ). This cover
Michael J. Adler and Carlene A. Chase
). Recently, there has been increased interest in using leguminous cover crops in sustainable and organic cropping systems in Florida ( Abdul-Baki et al., 2005 ; Collins, 2004 ; Scholberg et al., 2006 ). Species such as cowpea, sunn hemp, and velvetbean can
Muhammad Mansoor Javaid, Manish Bhan, Jodie V. Johnson, Bala Rathinasabapathi and Carlene A. Chase
Sunn hemp, a multipurpose species used for fiber, fodder, and biomass ( Cook and White, 1996 ), is widely grown in tropical and subtropical agricultural systems for its usefulness as a cover crop and green manure. A cover crop of sunn hemp can
Sunn-hemp, Crotalaria juncea L. cv. Tropic Sun was developed in Hawaii in 1982 and recently introduced to the island of Guam by USDA Soil Conservation Service as a potential green manure crop. An evaluation of various legumes at three different soil regimes revealed that sunn-hemp produced greater biomass than other plants. In the study of the effects of sunn-hemp in subsequent vegetable production, slightly greater canopy was observed for potato, Solanum tuberosum cv. Kennebec, with green manuring with sunn-hemp than without. Yield of head cabbage, Brassica oleracea var. capita cv. KK Cross, was higher with green manuring (1085.5g/head) than without (725.4g/plant). Competition between indigenous rhizobia and introduced inoculant seems to exist at some locations. Major constraints in using sunn-hemp as green manure on the island are its limited seed sources and requirements of additional labor. Education and promotion of using this legume in a long term soil-improving system is needed.
A.A. Abdul-Baki, H.H. Bryan, G.M. Zinati, W. Klassen, M. Codallo and N. Heckert
Prolific flowering is essential for economic seed production in sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.). Since flowers appear as racimes on the distal portions of secondary branches and since the branching is restricted by a strong apical dominance, lifting the apical dominance by cutting the tops of plants should induce more branches and more flowers per plant. We evaluated this concept in a field experiment conducted in 1999 at the Tropical Research and Education Center, Univ. of Florida, Homestead, by cutting main stems of 100-day-old plants in a dense stand (113,000 plants/ha) at 30, 60, and 90 cm above the soil surface. Cutting at all heights induced more branching and flowering than the control. The highest positive response was in plants in which the main stem was cut at 90 cm above soil surface.
Laura Avila, Johannes Scholberg, Nancy Roe and Corey Cherr
Increased dependency of conventional agriculture on inorganic fertilizers and fossil fuels may hamper long-term sustainability of agricultural production. Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) was tested during summer in a Community Supported Agriculture vegetable crop operation located in Southeast Florida, from 2003 to 2005. Farm system components included sunn hemp (SH) vs. a conventional fallow during summer, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentus) and pepper (Capsicum annum) during winter and spring sweet corn (Zea mays). Tomato and pepper were fertilized with 0, 67, 133, 200 kg N/ha (2003) vs. 0,100, 200 kg N/ha (2004/05). Sweet corn received 133 or 200 kg N ha (2003) vs. 100 kg N/ha (2004/05). Average SH biomass was 3.7 Mg/ha. In 2003 tomato yields following SH without supplemental N were similar to fallow, with 200 kg N/ha. By the third year, tomato and pepper yields in SH plots were 25% and 26% higher, respectively. Conventional pepper amended with 200 kg N/ha had only 8% higher yields than treatments amended with 100 kg N ha and CC. Overall, sweet corn had low yields, but yields increased if the preceding tomato/pepper crop received higher N rates. In 2003, sweet corn fertilized with 200 kg N/ha following a SH-fall vegetable crop produced 17% higher marketable yields compared to the fallow treatment. During 2004 and 2005, sweet corn within the SH-non-fertilized tomato system produced 29% higher yields compared to a similar conventional system. Results show that, in this rotation, both fall vegetable crops and sweet corn yield benefit from residual N fertilizer. Mineralization of SH may thus not only benefit the immediately following crop, but its effects can be seen later during the year.
Alyssa H. Cho, Alan W. Hodges and Carlene A. Chase
( Klassen et al., 2006 ). Sunn hemp produced the most groundcover and, therefore, the greatest weed suppression in comparison with other cover crops, suppressing 50% to 82% of weeds ( Sangakkara et al., 2006 ). The study also showed that a cash crop of mung
Qingren Wang, Waldemar Klassen, Yuncong Li, Merlyn Codallo and Aref A. Abdul-Baki
Intensive rainfall during summer causes substantial nutrient leaching in a subtropical region, where most vegetable lands lay fallow during this period. Also, an excessive amount of irrigation water supplied during the winter vegetable growing season leads to soil nutrient loss, which greatly impacts vegetable yields, especially in soils that possess a low capacity to retain soil water and nutrients. A 2-year field experiment was carried out to evaluate the effects of various summer cover crops and irrigation rates on tomato yields and quality, and on soil fertility in a subtropical region of Florida. The cover crops were sunn hemp [Crotalaria juncea (L.) `Tropic Sun'], cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp, `Iron Clay'], velvetbean [Mucuna deeringiana (Bort.) Merr.], and sorghum sudangrass [Sorghum bicolor × S. bicolor var. sudanense (Piper) Stapf.], with a weed-free fallow as a control. The cover crops were planted during late Spring 2001 and 2002, incorporated into the soil in the fall, and tomatoes [Lycopersicon esculentum (Mill.) `Sanibel'] were grown on raised beds during Winter 2001–02 and 2002–03, respectively. Irrigation in various treatments was controlled when tensiometer readings reached –5, –10, –20, or –30 kPa. The cover crops produced from 5.2 to 12.5 Mg·ha–1 of above ground dry biomass and 48 to 356 Mg·ha–1 of N during 2001–02 and from 3.6 to 9.7 Mg·ha–1 of dry biomass and 35 to 277 kg·ha–1 of N during 2002–03. The highest N contribution was made by sunn hemp and the lowest by sorghum sudangrass. Based on 2-year data, tomato marketable yields were increased from 14% to 27% (p ≤ 0.05) by growing cover crops, and the greatest increase occurred in the sunn hemp treatment followed by the cowpea treatment. Irrigation at –10, –20, and –30 kPa significantly improved marketable yields by 14%, 12%, and 25% (p ≤ 0.05) for 2001–02, and 18%, 31%, and 34% (p ≤ 0.05) for 2002–03, respectively, compared to yields at the commonly applied rate, –5 kPa (control). Irrigation at –30 kPa used about 85% less water than at –5 kPa. Yields of extra-large fruit in the sunn hemp and cowpea treatments from the first harvest in both years averaged 12.6 to 15.2 Mg·ha–1, and they were significantly higher than yields in the fallow treatment (10.2 to 11.3 Mg·ha–1). Likewise at –30 kPa yields of extra-large fruit from the first harvest for both years were 13.0 to 15.3 Mg·ha–1 compared to 9.8 to 10.7 Mg·ha–1 at –5 kPa. Soil NO3-N and total N contents in sunn hemp and cowpea treatments were significantly higher than those in fallow. The results indicate that growing legume summer cover crops in a subtropical region, especially sunn hemp and cowpea, and reducing irrigation rates are valuable approaches to conserve soil nutrients and water, and to improve soil fertility and tomato yields and quality.
Qingren Wang, Yuncong Li and Waldemar Klassen
A pot experiment with summer cover crops and soil amendments was conducted in two consecutive years to elucidate the effects of these cover crops and soil amendments on `Clemson Spineless 80' okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) yields and biomass production, and the uptake and distribution of soil nutrients and trace elements. The cover crops were sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), velvetbean (Mucuna deeringiana), and sorghum sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor × S. bicolor var. sudanense) with fallow as the control. The organic soil amendments were biosolids (sediment from wastewater plants), N-Viro Soil (a mixture of biosolids and coal ash, coal ash (a combustion by-product from power plants), co-compost (a mixture of 3 biosolids: 7 yard waste), and yard waste compost (mainly from leaves and branches of trees and shrubs, and grass clippings) with a soil-incorporated cover crop as the control. As a subsequent vegetable crop, okra was grown after the cover crops, alone or together with the organic soil amendments, had been incorporated. All of the cover crops, except sorghum sudangrass in 2002-03, significantly improved okra fruit yields and the total biomass production (i.e., fruit yields were enhanced by 53% to 62% in 2002-03 and by 28% to 70% in 2003-04). Soil amendments enhanced okra fruit yields from 38.3 to 81.0 g/pot vs. 27.4 g/pot in the control in 2002-03, and from 59.9 to 124.3 g/pot vs. 52.3 g/pot in the control in 2003-04. Both cover crops and soil amendments can substantially improve nutrient uptake and distribution. Among cover crop treatments, sunn hemp showed promising improvement in concentrations of calcium (Ca), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), boron (B), and molybdenum (Mo) in fruit; magnesium (Mg), Zn, Cu, and Mo in shoots; and Mo in roots of okra. Among soil amendments, biosolids had a significant influence on most nutrients by increasing the concentrations of Zn, Cu, Fe, and Mo in the fruit; Mg, Zn, Cu, and Mo in the shoot; and Mg, Zn, and Mo in the root. Concentrations of the trace metal cadmium (Cd) were not increased significantly in either okra fruit, shoot, or root by application of these cover crops or soil amendments, but the lead (Pb) concentration was increased in the fruit by application of a high rate (205 g/pot) of biosolids. These results suggest that cover crops and appropriate amounts of soil amendments can be used to improve soil fertility and okra yield without adverse environmental effects or risk of contamination of the fruit. Further field studies will be required to confirm these findings.