Finding peas that fix more nitrogen
Peas are an ancient cultivated plant that can be traced back to about 8,000 BC in the Middle East. They were introduced to Canada by immigrants and are now an important pulse crop widely grown in the Canadian Prairies. Canada is a world leader in pulse production and in sales: we rank number one when it comes to lentils and peas, with pulses now exported to 132 countries worldwide. The Canadian pulse and special crop industry had an export value of more than $4.35 billion in 2016. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Plant Gene Resources Canada (PGRC) maintains a collection of 604 samples of cultivated pea and 16 wild relatives of peas. They collaborate with genebanks and scientists around the world to characterize and evaluate this material and expand Canada's collection.
Pulse crops, in combination with symbiotic soil bacteria, have the ability to assimilate or "fix" nitrogen from the air, use it to enrich their growth, and make it available in the soil for crops to use the following year. AAFC scientists recently compared peas with high root nodulation, obtained from international genebanks, to commercial pea cultivars grown in Canada. Scientists from the University of Saskatchewan and California State University evaluated the pea lines for their ability to assimilate nitrogen under local environmental conditions in western Canada.
The research showed that environmental factors and the cultivars are both important factors when it comes to nitrogen fixation. This research will help farmers choose a pea cultivar with increased ability to fixate nitrogen, which will help them reduce nitrogen fertilizer costs.
Report a problem on this page
- Date modified: