A comparison of proton excretion of twelve pasture legumes grown in nutrient solution Academic Article uri icon


  • Summary.The use of legumes to improve the productivity of pastures has usually been associated with an increase in soil acidification. The present study compared the acidification potential of 12 N2-fixing pasture legume species/genotypes using a solution culture assay. The legumes were chosen because of their use or potential use in farming systems in the mediterranean zones of southern Australia. The species grown were Trifolium subterraneum L. (vars. Dalkeith, Yarloop and Clare), Trifolium glomeratum L., Trifolium tomentosum L., Medicago murex Willd., Medicago polymorpha L., Medicago truncatulaGaertn., Ornithopus compressus L., Ornithopus sativusBrot., Trifolium vesiculosum and Trifolium balansae. Proton excretion was measured over a period of 21 days from days 40 to 61 after germination. The amount of protons excreted into solution varied between 143 and 265 cmol H+ /kg dry matter for the different species and genotypes. In general, T. tomentosum and T. glomeratum excreted greater amounts of protons per unit biomass than Medicago species and T. subterraneum, which, in turn, excreted more protons than Ornithopus species. The amount of proton excreted per kilogram biomass was well correlated with the concentrations of excess cations over anions and ash alkalinity in plants across all the species. Total acid production was highly correlated with accumulation of excess cations and ash alkalinity, total dry matter production and total nitrogen fixation during the study period. It is suggested that the potential proton excretion by new pasture legume species should be considered when they are introduced into farming systems.

publication date

  • 1997