Nitrogen fixation by crop legumes reduces the need for fertiliser nitrogen (N) and emissions of nitrous oxide. Benefits from legumes can be maximised by using high-yielding legume varieties that are not constrained by poor management, insects, disease, weeds or nutrient deficiencies.
- Growing crop legumes in rotation with cereals substantially reduces the need for fertiliser N inputs, often by 40 to 80kg N/ha, and improves productivity.
- Crop legumes fix about 100kg N/ha on average. Nitrogen fixation is suppressed by soil nitrate.
- An estimated 167,000 tonnes of N with a nominal value of $270 million was fixed by crop legumes in 2012.
- Adequate nodulation is important.
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[Reprinted July 2014]
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