Nitrogen Nutrition Optimization in Organic Greenhouse Tomato Through the Use of Legume Plants as Green Manure or Intercrops
In the present study, in addition to farmyard manure (FYM), cowpea was applied as green manure and faba bean as an intercrop in an organic greenhouse tomato crop, aiming to increase the levels of soil N. Three experiments (E1, E2, E3) were carried out, in which legumes were either noninoculated or inoculated with rhizobia alone or together with plant growth, promoting rhizobacteria. Inoculation of legumes with rhizobia considerably increased N2 fixation in E1 but had no impact on N2 fixation in E2 and E3. In E1, the application of cowpea decreased yield because it imposed a stronger nematode infection as the cowpea plants acted as a good host for Meloidogyne. However, in E2 and E3 the nematode infection was successfully controlled and the legumes significantly increased the tomato yield when inoculated in E2, irrespective of legume inoculation in E3. The total N concentration in the tomato plant tissues was significantly increased by legume application in E2 and E3, but not in E1. These results show that legumes applied as green manure can successfully complement N supply via FYM in organic greenhouse tomato, while legume inoculation with rhizobia can increase the amounts of nitrogen provided to the crop via green manure.