Grains Research and Development

Date: 01.07.2014

Nitrogen fixation of crop legumes: basic principles and practical management

Nitrogen fixation of crop legumes: basic principles and practical management thumbnail image

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.

Key Points

  • 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]

Region North, South, West