Some studies in the contribution of nitrogen fixing blue-green algae to the nitrogen economy of temperate soils
AuthorsCatchpole, Ian George
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AbstractThe work in this thesis is an extension of a large study carried out by this college at Rothamsted Experimental Station (J. Featherstone-Witty, Ph.D thesis, 1974; with Keay, and Froggatt in press) and was aimed at scaling down the fieldwork to lysimeter investigations in order to elucidate the true value of algal inoculation as a replacement for synthetic fertilizers. Two lysimeters (each measuring 5m. x 3m.) were constructed above ground on concrete rafts with a built in facility to collect drainage water from the four quarters of each lysimeter. Both units were filled with calcareous soil (pH. 8). Each unit was divided into 4 treatments and sown to spring wheat. Previous indications were that this variety would benefit more from algal release of nitrogen than winter wheat because of a later maturation, and hence greater likelihood of the ears receiving nitrogen released from algal cells during late summer. A continuous record was kept of variations in soil, crop and drainage water nitrogen together with surface nitrogen fixation measurements (using the acetylene reduction technique), so that estimates of the efficiency of algal inoculation, to increase soil-N levels, could be made. Laboratory studies have suggested nitrogen fixation occurs only in soils low in nitrogen (less than about 4ppmJ and algal cells apparently release very little extracellular nitrogen when grown on solid surfaces. These low levels of nitrogen would not support crop yields equivalent to those achieved by the application of synthetic fertilizers. Results from the two year lysimeter study suggest no improvement in crop yield for the algal inoculated treatments, compared with the controls, though total crop nitrogen, for the algal treatments was approximately 7% higher than the fertilizer treatments and 60% higher than the mean value for the two controls; ear nitrogen was as much as 46% higher than the controls. Algal inoculation, together with herbicide application, proved the best treatment, improving both crop dry weight and nitrogen composition significantly.
CitationCatchpole, I.G. (1978) 'Some studies in the contribution of nitrogen fixing blue-green algae to the nitrogen economy of temperate soils'. PhD thesis. Luton College of Higher Education.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy submitted to the Council for National Academic Awards based on work carried out at Luton College of Higher Education, Beds.
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