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Growth of Seedlings of Pasture Grasses and Legumes Deprived of Single Mineral Nutrients

M. Fenner and W. G. Lee
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 26, No. 1 (Apr., 1989), pp. 223-232
DOI: 10.2307/2403663
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2403663
Page Count: 10
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Growth of Seedlings of Pasture Grasses and Legumes Deprived of Single Mineral Nutrients
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Abstract

(1) The effective internal supply of specific nutrient elements in the seeds of seven grass and five legume pasture species was quantified by growing newly germinated seedlings in nutrient solutions each deficient in one of the following elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and sulphur. The dry weight attained in 3 weeks was taken as a measure of the availability of each element for seedling growth from the seeds' mineral contents. (2) In aggregate, the order in which the element deficiencies limited growth was nitrogen (most limiting), potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium and sulphur. The grasses and legumes gave similar responses except to calcium, for which the legumes had a markedly greater requirement. (3) No significant correlations were found between the concentrations of individual elements in the seeds and the seedlings' mineral requirements. Only for phosphorus was there a significant correlation between the absolute amount per seed and the seedling requirement. (4) Sequential harvesting of Lolium perenne and Trifolium repens seedlings at 2-day intervals showed that the order in which the elements became limiting was positively correlated with the order of requirement based on the dry weights of 3-week-old seedlings. (5) Overall, the results indicate that: (a) chemical analysis of seeds does not provide a useful measure of the mineral resources available for seedling growth; (b) the usable mineral nutrients are markedly unbalanced in relation to seedling requirements; (c) taxonomically unrelated species behave in a broadly similar way.

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