Legumes- Importance In Crop Rotation
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Leguminous plants are the plants which belong to the family Leguminosae. They are remarkable group of plants as they can fix atmospheric nitrogen with the help of bacteria which resides in the root nodules of these plants. These Bacteria are called as nitrogen-fixing bacteria and they are in the symbiotic association with the roots of the host plant. Most legumes, as we know, contain symbiotic bacteria called rhizobia. To be “symbiotic” is to have long-term, usually mutualistic, interactions with other species. After legume seeds germinate, rhizobia in the soil invade the root hairs and move towards the root of the legume. The bacteria multiply quickly in the root, causing the inflation of root cells to create nodules. These rhizobia present in the root nodules of legumes fix nitrogen into ammonia and the ammonia is then assimilated into amino acids.
With this arrangement, the plant’s root nodules become an excellent source of nitrogen for the legume. Nitrogen is a key element in crop productivity and protein production. With this being said, legumes tend to be highly rich in protein.
To lessen the dependence on nitrogenous fertilizers in the agricultural fields, using leguminous crops in crop rotation is an ideal approach. In crop rotation, or the practice of growing many different types of crop species in the same area for many seasons, legumes are often utilized. By alternating between legumes and non-legumes, the soil gains sufficient amounts of usable nitrogen exerted from the legumes to better the livelihood of the non-legumes. On the other hand, when a non-legume is harvested and removed from the soil, all of the crop’s nutrients leave with it, leaving the soil with less nutrients.
Legumes help keep usable nitrogen in the soil, even after they are harvested. This process reduces the need for nitrogen-rich fertilizers, and helps sustain usable nitrogen concentrations in soils for future crops. Therefore, legumes can be considered a “green manure.” Legume plants can then be seen to hold economic value when money is saved from the reduced use of commercial fertilizers, which abate the potential cost of cleanup and alleviate the negative impacts of these chemicals on freshwater species.