In the next few years, grain legumes should be used as a mean of N acquisition in cropping systems due to the depletion of non-renewable sources of energy. However, this requires improvements in the accuracy with which biological N2 fixation, N balances and the N benefit for following crops are estimated. Moreover, grain legume crops are largely influenced by water stress while the world area exposed to drought periods may increase in the coming years due to global warming. This work aims to quantify biomass and N accumulation, N partitioning between above and below ground parts and N rhizodeposition by a pea (Pisum sativum L.) when influenced by water stress. In a controlled environment, pea plants were exposed to a severe drought or not stressed, either at flowering or during pod filling. N rhizodeposition was measured using the split root method and plants were harvested at the end of flowering (59 days after sowing, DAS 59), at the end of the drought period applied during pod filling (DAS 74) and at maturity (DAS 101). Water stress strongly affected pea dry weight and N accumulation. In both stressed treatments, nodule biomass and N content were reduced by about 65% in the absence of stress. Regardless of the treatment, total below ground plant N (root N + N rhizodeposition; BGN) and N rhizodeposition were correlated with total plant N content and the proportion of BGN to total plant N was similar among treatments at each sampling date. At DAS 59 and 74, the N contained in rhizodeposits represented around 30% of the total BGN and increased to around 60% at maturity though BGN decreased from around 20 to 13% of the total plant N between DAS 74 and maturity. The results suggest that water stress has no specific effect on N partitioning between above and below ground parts.
Mahieu, S., Germont, F., Aveline, A., Hauggaard-Nielsen, H., Ambus, P., & Jensen, E. S. (2009). The influence of water stress on biomass and N accumulation, N partitioning between above and below ground parts and on N rhizodeposition during reproductive growth of pea (Pisum sativum L.). Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 41(2), 380-387. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2008.11.021