The N-15 natural abundance and N-15 isotope dilution (ID) methods for measuring dinitrogen fixation and nitrogen transfer in alfalfa and alfalfa intercropped with meadow fescue were compared in three experiments. Although both methods gave essentially the same estimates the precision of the values obtained differed, and values obtained by the isotope dilution method were more precise. Similarly, the N-15 natural abundance method was not very suitable for detecting N transfer from legume to non-legume. Greater amounts of N transfer were detected by the ID method, and with a greater precision. Mixed cropping sometimes gave slight to high increases in % nitrogen fixation compared to alfalfa cropped alone. On the whole alfalfa was found to be a high nitrogen fixer, with fixation values from the second harvest onwards almost always greater than 80% and often close to 100%. 23 refs, 30 tabs.
Yunyin, Yao 
- Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing (China). Inst. for Application of Atomic Energy