Assessment of soil nitrogen and related enzymes as influenced by the incorporation time of field pea cultivated as a catch crop in Alfisol

Environ Monit Assess. 2014 Dec;186(12):8425-41. doi: 10.1007/s10661-014-4014-0. Epub 2014 Sep 6.


The effect of the time of catch crop (field pea) incorporation [catch crop incorporated in the autumn (A) or in the spring (B) versus plots without a catch crop (C)] on the soil enzymes related to N transformation (urease - UR, protease - PRO, nitrate reductase - NR, arginine ammonification rate - AAR), the total N and mineral N as well as microbial biomass N (MBN) contents were investigated in a 3-year experiment. The catch crop was sown at the beginning of August and plowed in the autumn in 2008, 2009 and 2010 or left as mulch during the winter. Soil samples for microbial activity were taken from spring barley plots that were grown in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before sowing (March), during the tillering phase (May), shooting (June) and after the harvesting of spring barley (August). The use of catch crop significantly increased the soil mineral and MBN contents as well as the activities of PRO and NR as compared to the control soil. The spring incorporation of the field pea significantly increased the MBN content in contrast to the autumn application, while the activity of N-cycle enzymes were clearly unaffected (UR and AAR) regardless of the time of the incorporation of field pea or else the results were inconsistent (PRO and NR). When the catch crop was incorporated in the spring, a significantly higher content of mineral N as compared to autumn incorporation was noted on only two of the four sampling dates. The enzymatic activity (PRO and AAR) was about 1.3-2.8 times higher in May and June as compared with March and August. Both spring or autumn incorporation of catch crop can be a useful management practice to increase the soil mineral N content and enhance the soil biological activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Biomass
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Enzymes / analysis*
  • Hordeum / metabolism
  • Nitrogen / analysis*
  • Nitrogen Cycle
  • Peas / growth & development*
  • Seasons
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Soil Microbiology


  • Enzymes
  • Soil
  • Nitrogen