Interest in alternatives to synthetic nitrogen (N) fertilizer sources for switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) production, such as interseeding with N- fixing legumes continues to increase. Common vetch (Vicia sativa) is a N-fixing legume that occurs naturally throughout the U.S. and has less hard seed than hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), making it potentially less invasive, and it may fix N at similar rates to that of hairy vetch. However, little data exist to substantiate this. In this study, N-fixation rates via the N-difference method were determined to be 59.3 and 43.3 kg N ha-1 for common and hairy vetch, respectively, when seeded at 6.7 kg ha-1. At these rates, neither common nor hairy vetch significantly affected switchgrass yields. Based on the N-fixation rates and vetch plant masses, we estimate that minimum seeding rates of 7.6 and 10.4 kg PLS ha-1 of common and hairy vetch, respectively are required to obtain plant stands needed to fix the current recommended rate of N for switchgrass biomass production.
Allen, F. L., P. D. Keyser, G. E. Bates, D. D. Tyler, P. L. Lambdin, A. J. Ashworth, and K. Warwick. 2011. Nitrogen fixation and seeding rates of common vs. hairy vetch for interseeding into established switchgrass stands. American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, Oct 16 – 19, 2011, San Antonio, TX, Poster presentation.