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Nitrogen Acquisition of Lentil (Lens culinaris Medic) Under Varied Fertility Treatments, No Tillage Duration and Nitrogen Regimes in Saskatchewan



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High levels of soil nitrogen (N) can interfere with N2 fixation of lentil (Lens culinaris) and have variable effects on growth, yield and maturity of this indeterminate crop in Saskatchewan. In a series of field and greenhouse experiments during 2006 to 2008, response of the above-ground biomass (DW), plant N, N2 fixation, yield and days to maturity (DTM) of lentil to different N sources, time of N availability, and also to two no tillage (NT) durations were studied. First, eight cultivars of lentil were grown under three fertility treatments of granular rhizobium inoculant, 50 kg N fertilizer ha-1 and a non-treated control in three environment-years at Saskatoon and Indian Head, SK. The fertility treatments, plant N status and N2 fixation did not alter lentil DTM, but weather did. On average, lentil matured 101 and 84 days after seeding with sufficient rain and with drought, respectively. Growth and yield of the lentil were identical in the inoculant and the N fertilizer treatments. The N fertilizer treatment occasionally restricted N2 fixation, but N shortage was compensated via more N uptake from soil. The greatest N accumulation of lentil occurred during podding to maturity and benefitted pod N content. By maturity, pod, stem and leaf had 60, 24 and 14% of total dry matter and 78, 9 and 13% of total plant N, respectively. Leaf N concentration, which closely resembled soil and plant N status, was reasonably predicted by SPAD chlorophyll meter observations after pod set. Yield of five lentil cultivars was tested for the effects of 25-years (LN) versus 5-years (SN) of no tillage in the Black Soil Zone at Indian Head, SK in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In the same location, CDC Sedley was grown with four N fertilizer rates at the both LN and SN. Under terminal drought in 2006, average DW, N content and yield of the lentil cultivars in SN were greater than in LN, likely because of inhibited N2 fixation by the amplified soil N in the LN. In this year, 60 kg N fertilizer ha-1 reduced the yield difference of CDC Sedley in SN and LN. Lentil yield was identical or tended to be greater in LN than in SN with more rain in 2007 and 2008 that prolonged N mineralization and N uptake. In the greenhouse study, applying N fertilizer from flowering until podding and until maturity increased DW, N content and yield, and delayed maturity of lentil compared to lentil relying on N2 fixation. Later flowering of one cultivar or greater N2 fixation in one soil medium diminished the variation of inoculated lentil with the post-flowering N treatments, suggesting N fixation could supply lentil N requirement. Large-seeded cultivars produced greater yield than the small-seeded cultivars across environments in the fertility treatment study. Cultivar CDC Milestone produced comparable yield to high-yielding cultivars CDC Plato and CDC Greenland, but matured earlier. This cultivar showed promising results under both cool-wet and drought conditions. In contrast, CDC Sedley had lower on N2 fixation and HI values across the experiments. In the Black Soil Zone, CDC Milestone and CDC Robin performance was improved by improved HI and N2 fixation. Overall, results of this thesis do not support the application of N fertilizer for inducing early maturity in lentil. Soil inoculation with commercial strains is suggested for Saskatchewan cropping systems. Applying N fertilizer is not required, unless soil test results suggest otherwise. In places like Indian Head, SK, cultivars with greater N2 fixation and higher HI can better fit the short growing season, cool temperature and high soil N content.



No tillage, Lentil, Nitrogen fixation, Nitrogen partitioning



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Plant Sciences


Plant Sciences


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