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Rhizosphere priming and plant-mediated cover crop decomposition

Authors
  • Rosenzweig, Steven T.1
  • Schipanski, Meagan E.1
  • Kaye, Jason P.2
  • 1 Colorado State University, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, 1170 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO, 80523, USA , Fort Collins (United States)
  • 2 The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, University Park, PA, 16802, USA , University Park (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Plant and Soil
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Apr 13, 2017
Volume
417
Issue
1-2
Pages
127–139
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11104-017-3246-5
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Background and aimsRhizosphere priming occurs when plant belowground carbon (C) allocation influences the rate of soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition. We investigated the effects of priming and plant-mediated cover crop decomposition on agroecosystem C and nitrogen (N) dynamics.MethodsUsing C stable isotopes, we tracked C and N from corn, clover (Trifolium pratense) and rye (Secale cereale) cover crop litter, and background SOM in plots following clover, rye, or no cover crop (fallow) in 2013 and 2014.ResultsCorn enhanced the decomposition of N-rich clover cover crop litter in 2013, but there was little evidence of priming of bulk SOM decomposition. There was no corn effect on litterbag decomposition in 2014, likely due to greater soil moisture and temperature in no-corn plots. Corn N uptake per unit of corn-derived CO2 respiration was consistently lower following rye than clover and fallow, suggesting a higher C cost for corn to access N following a rye cover crop.ConclusionsThis is one of the first field-based studies to provide evidence that plant-mediated litter decomposition potentially provides an important source of plant-available N. Climate and residue quality influence the extent to which corn mediates its own N supply with implications for agroecosystem C and N cycling.

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