Agronomy2015, 5(3), 291-308; doi:10.3390/agronomy5030291 (registering DOI) - published 2 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: High yield in snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) production requires relatively high nitrogen (N) inputs. However, little information is available on whether the use of rhizobial inoculants for enhanced biological dinitrogen fixation can provide adequate N to support green pod yield. The objectives of this study were to test the use of rhizobia inoculation as an alternative N source for snap bean production under rain fed conditions, and to identify suitable cultivars and appropriate agro-ecology for high pod yield and N2 fixation in Ethiopia. The study was conducted in 2011 and 2012 during the main rainy season at three locations. The treatments were factorial combinations of three N treatments (0 and 100 kg·N·ha−1, and Rhizobium etli (HB 429)) and eight snap bean cultivars. Rhizobial inoculation and applied N increased the total yield of snap bean pod by 18% and 42%, respectively. Cultivar Melkassa 1 was the most suitable for a reduced input production system due to its greatest N2 fixation and high pod yield. The greatest amount of fixed N was found at Debre Zeit location. We concluded that N2 fixation achieved through rhizobial inoculation can support the production of snap bean under rain fed conditions in Ethiopia.
Abstract: Finger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn) is a staple food crop grown by subsistence farmers in the semi-arid tropics of South Asia and Africa. It remains highly valued by traditional farmers as it is nutritious, drought tolerant, short duration, and requires low inputs. Its continued propagation may help vulnerable farmers mitigate climate change. Unfortunately, the land area cultivated with this crop has decreased, displaced by maize and rice. Reversing this trend will involve achieving higher yields, including through improvements in crop nutrition. The objective of this paper is to comprehensively review the literature concerning yield responses of finger millet to inorganic fertilizers (macronutrients and micronutrients), farmyard manure (FYM), green manures, organic by-products, and biofertilizers. The review also describes the impact of these inputs on soils, as well as the impact of diverse cropping systems and finger millet varieties, on nutrient responses. The review critically evaluates the benefits and challenges associated with integrated nutrient management, appreciating that most finger millet farmers are economically poor and primarily use farmyard manure. We conclude by identifying research gaps related to nutrient management in finger millet, and provide recommendations to increase the yield and sustainability of this crop as a guide for subsistence farmers.
Abstract: Sugarcane has been widely used as a biofuel crop due to its high biological productivity, ease of conversion to ethanol, and its relatively high potential for greenhouse gas reduction and lower environmental impacts relative to other derived biofuels from traditional agronomic crops. In this investigation, we studied four sugarcane cultivars (H-65-7052, H-78-3567, H-86-3792 and H-87-4319) grown on a Hawaiian commercial sugarcane plantation to determine their ability to store and accumulate soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) across a 24-month growth cycle on contrasting soil types. The main study objective establish baseline parameters for biofuel production life cycle analyses; sub-objectives included (1) determining which of four main sugarcane cultivars sequestered the most soil C and (2) assessing how soil C sequestration varies among two common Hawaiian soil series (Pulehu-sandy clay loam and Molokai-clay). Soil samples were collected at 20 cm increments to depths of up to 120 cm using hand augers at the three main growth stages (tillering, grand growth, and maturity) from two experimental plots at to observe total carbon (TC), total nitrogen (TN), dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrates (NO−3) using laboratory flash combustion for TC and TN and solution filtering and analysis for DOC and NO−3. Aboveground plant biomass was collected and subsampled to determine lignin and C and N content. This study determined that there was an increase of TC with the advancement of growing stages in the studied four sugarcane cultivars at both soil types (increase in TC of 15–35 kg·m2). Nitrogen accumulation was more variable, and NO−3 (<5 ppm) were insignificant. The C and N accumulation varies in the whole profile based on the ability of the sugarcane cultivar’s roots to explore and grow in the different soil types. For the purpose of storing C in the soil, cultivar H-65-7052 (TC accumulation of ~30 kg·m−2) and H-86-3792 (25 kg·m−2) rather H-78-3567 (15 kg·m−2) and H-87-4319 (20 kg·m−2) appeared to produce more accumulated carbon in both soil types.
Abstract: Balanced and integrated use of organic and inorganic fertilizers may enhance the accumulation of soil organic matter and improves soil physical properties. A field experiment having randomized complete block design with four replications was conducted for 36 years at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, India to assess the effects of inorganic fertilizers and farmyard manure (FYM) on soil organic carbon (SOC), soil physical properties and crop yields in a maize (Zea mays)–wheat (Triticum aestivum) rotation. Soil fertility management treatments included were non-treated control, 100% N, 50% NPK, 100% NP, 100% NPK, 150% NPK, 100% NPK + Zn, 100% NPK + W, 100% NPK (-S) and 100% NPK + FYM. Soil pH, bulk density (BD), electrical conductivity (EC), cation exchange capacity, aggregate mean weight diameter (MWD) and infiltration were measured 36 years after the initiation of experiment.Cumulative infiltration, infiltration rate and aggregate MWD were greater with integrated use of FYM along with 100% NPK compared to non-treated control. No significant differences were obtained among fertilizer treatments for BD and EC. The SOC pool was the lowest in control at 7.3 Mg ha−1 and increased to 11.6 Mg ha−1 with 100%NPK+FYM. Improved soil physical conditions and increase in SOC resulted in higher maize and wheat yields. Infiltration rate, aggregate MWD and crop yields were positively correlated with SOC. Continuous cropping and integrated use of organic and inorganic fertilizers increased soil C sequestration and crop yields. Balanced application of NPK fertilizers with FYM was best option for higher crop yields in maize–wheat rotation.
Abstract: Maize (Zea mays L) is the most important food grain in sub-Saharan Africa and is mostly grown by small-scale farmers under rainfed conditions. Aluminum toxicity caused by low pH is one of the abiotic factors limiting maize production among smallholder farmers. Therefore, breeding maize hybrids that are tolerant to aluminum toxicity will sustain and increase maize production in these areas. Hence this study was undertaken to assess the genotypic variation for aluminum toxicity in maize inbred lines. Fourteen maize inbred lines of historical importance that are used in maize hybrid breeding in Zambia were studied for seedling root variation under different aluminum concentrations using hydroponic conditions. The aluminum tolerance membership index based on three traits (actual root length, relative root length and root length response) classified genotypes L3233 and L1214 as highly tolerant, L5527 and ZM421 as tolerant, and L12, L3234, and ZM521 as intermediate. The high PCV, GCV, and heritability observed for the root traits indicate that opportunities for selection and breeding for aluminum tolerance among Zambian inbred lines exist. Furthermore, the study indicated that a higher genetic gain would be expected from net root growth followed by shoot length response as selection traits, thus supporting the use of root traits for aluminum tolerance screening.
Abstract: Arsenic (As) in soils causes several detrimental effects, including death. Arsenic toxicity in soybean plants (Glycine max L.) has been little studied. Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) increase the tolerance of host plants to abiotic stress, like As. We investigated the effects of AM fungi on soybean grown in As-contaminated soils. A pot experiment was carried out in a glasshouse, at random with five replications. We applied three levels of As (0, 25, and 50 mg As kg−1), inoculated and non-inoculated with the AM fungus Rhizophagus intraradices (N.C. Schenck & G.S. Sm.) C. Walker & A. Schüßler. Plant parameters and mycorrhizal colonization were measured. Arsenic in the substrate, roots, and leaves was quantified. Arsenic negatively affected the AM percentage of spore germination and hyphal length. As also affected soybean plants negatively: an extreme treatment caused a reduction of more than 77.47% in aerial biomass, 68.19% in plant height, 78.35% in number of leaves, and 44.96% reduction in root length, and delayed the phenological evolution. Mycorrhizal inoculation improved all of these parameters, and decreased plant As accumulation (from 7.8 mg As kg−1 to 6.0 mg As kg−1). AM inoculation showed potential to reduce As toxicity in contaminated areas. The AM fungi decreased As concentration in plants following different ways: dilution effect, less As intake by roots, and improving soybean tolerance to As.