Optimal seeding rates for organic production of field pea and lentil
There are no seeding rates established for organic production of field pea and lentil in Saskatchewan and organic producers must rely upon rates recommended for conventional production of these crops. These seeding rates may not be suitable for organic production as the two systems differ in the use of inputs and in pest management. The objectives of this study were to determine an optimal seeding rate for organic production of field pea and lentil in Saskatchewan considering a number of factors, including yield, weed suppression, soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations, soil water storage, colonization of crop roots by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), plant P uptake, and profitability. A field experiment was conducted to determine the optimal seeding rates of field pea and lentil. Field pea seeding rates were 10, 25, 62, 156 and 250 plants m-2 and lentil seeding rates were 15, 38, 94, 235 and 375 plants m-2. Sites were established at Vonda, Vanscoy and Delisle, SK using a randomized complete block designs with summerfallow and green manure treatments included for each crop. Seed yield increased with increasing seeding rate for both crops, up to 1725 kg ha-1 for field pea and 1290 kg ha-1 for lentil. Weed biomass at physiological maturity decreased with increasing seeding rate for both crops. In field pea, weeds were reduced in weight by 68%, while lentil reduced weed biomass by 59% between the lowest and highest seeding rates. Post-harvest soil phosphate-P levels did not change consistently between treatments, indicating that there was no trend in soil P concentration with seeding rate. Post-harvest soil inorganic N, however, was higher for the summerfallow and green manure treatments than for the seeding rate treatments in both crops. Inorganic N was higher at some sites for the highest two seeding rates in field pea. Soil water storage following harvest was not affected by treatment.Colonization of crop roots by AMF increased for lentil with increasing seeding rate, but the same trend was not observed in field pea. A growth chamber experiment to study the rate of colonization of field pea between 10 and 50 d after emergence did not show any differences in AMF colonization between seeding rates. Colonization levels were high (70 to 85%) for both crops in both the field and growth chamber. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colonization and seeding rate had no effect on plant P concentration for either field pea or lentil. Both crops became increasingly profitable as seeding rate increased. Field pea reached a maximum return at 200 plants m-2 and lentil return increased to the highest seeding rate of 375 plants m-2. Organic farmers should increase seeding rates of these crops to increase returns and provide better weed suppression.
soil inorganic nitrogen, organic farming, soil phosphorus, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, weed management, phosphorus uptake
Master of Science (M.Sc.)