Date of this Version
Field Crops Research 125 (2012) 179–185; doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2011.08.006
Grasspea (GP) (Lathyrus sativus) is a drought-tolerant legume that can be grown for forage and grain. It has potential value to be used as a nitrogen-fixing crop in dryland rotations with non-legume grain crops. However, the agronomy of GP for the Central Great Plains region have not been investigated. The objective of this research was to compare the grain and biomass yield, as well as N accumulation of GP relative to field pea (FP) in two planting configurations. We carried out a 3-year field experiment to compare dryland GP with Admiral yellow field pea (Pisum sativum) in two configurations: (1) a wide row spacing with lower population (WL) with 76-cm rows with 75 kg seeds planted per ha, and (2) a narrower row spacing with a higher population (NH) with 19-cm rows with 136 kg seeds planted per ha. We measured the biomass, grain yield, N content, and soil water use. Our results show that the NH treatment out-yielded the WL treatment in both pea species. The GP had higher yield than FP on the lowest yielding year, while FP yielded better when overall yields were higher. Biomass production was also higher for the NH configuration, and GP was a higher biomass producer than FP over the 3-year study. The GP had higher N concentration in shoots and seed compared to FP, indicating higher N-fixing capacity. The FP matured faster than GP, and had marginally higher grain water use efficiency than GP. Our results show that GP is a viable alternative legume for the Central Great Plains, with comparable yields in low precipitation years. However, the longer growing season required by GP to mature has water use implications in years with reduced water availability in mid to late summer.