U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Date of this Version



Published in COMMUN. SOIL SCI. PLANT ANAL., 33(9&10), 1435–1449 (2002).


Use of the rhizomatous perennial forage legume kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum M. Bieb.) has been limited by slow establishment. Mature kura clover responds to liming on some acid soils, but the soil pH required for vigorous growth of young plants is unknown. A factorial greenhouse experiment was conducted with two kura clover cultivars (Rhizo and Endura) and one cultivar of birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L., Norcen) planted in three soil types (Sartell loamy fine sand, Hubbard loamy sand, and Sanborg clay loam) amended with Ca(OH)2 to obtain six soil pH levels. The experiment was performed twice, once using soil taken directly from the field and once using steamed soil. Response of kura clover and birdsfoot trefoil to soil pH differed. Maximum yield increases in kura clover obtained by adjusting soil pH from 4.9 to 6.5 were about 50% on nonsteamed soil and more than 150% on steamed soil. Birdsfoot trefoil did not respond to liming on nonsteamed soil. On steamed soil birdsfoot trefoil response to liming was inconsistent. Optimal soil pH for growth of kura clover and birdsfoot trefoil was generally between pH 6 and 7. Biomass yield was correlated with nodulation in both kura clover and birdsfoot trefoil, but nodulation was correlated with nitrogen uptake only in kura clover. Increased biomass yield of young kura clover plants in response to liming was best explained by alleviation of aluminum (Al), zinc (Zn), and manganese (Mn) toxicities and increased availability of phosphorus (P) and molybdenum (Mo) at higher soil pH levels.