Dual Inoculation of Soybean with Rhizophagus Irregularis and Commercial Bradyrhizobium Japonicum Increases Nitrogen Fixation and Growth in Organic and Conventional Soils
Gitonga, Nicholas Mawira
Njeru, Ezekiel Mugendi
Maingi, John M.
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Soil amendment with beneficial microorganisms is gaining popularity among farmers to alleviate the decline of soil fertility and to increase food production and maintain environmental quality. However, farm management greatly influence soil microbial abundance and function, which overly affects crop growth and development. In this work, greenhouse experiments involving soybeans were conducted to evaluate the effects of bradyrhizobia and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) dual inoculation on nodulation, AMF root colonization, growth and nutrient acquisition under contrasting farming systems. The experimental treatments were AMF and/or bradyrhizobia inoculation and dual inoculation on SC squire soybean variety. The exotic AMF inoculants used were Funneliformis mosseae (BEG 12) and Rhizophagus irregularis (BEG 44) while bacteria were commercial Bradyrhizobium japonicum (USDA110) and native bradyrhizobia isolates. Experiments with soil samples from organic and conventional farms were set out using a completely randomized design with three replicates. The results demonstrated that bradyrhizobia and AMF dual inoculation consistently and significantly enhanced soybean nodule dry weight (NDW), shoot dry weight (SDW) and AMF root colonization compared with individual bradyrhizobia, AMF and non-inoculated control. Moreover, organic soil significantly (p = 0.001) increased soybean SDW, NDW and AMF root colonization compared to conventional soil. Remarkably, shoot nutrients content differed in organic and conventional farming where, shoot nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and organic carbon were higher in organic farming than the latter. Among individual inoculants, Rhizophagus irregularis out-performed Funneliformis mosseae, while commercial Bradyrhizobium japonicum showed higher performance than native bradyrhizobia. Our results demonstrated the importance of organic farming, AMF and bradyrhizobia dual inoculation in enhancing soybean growth and nutrient acquisition. However, field trials should be assessed to determine the good performance of bradyrhizobia and AMF dual inoculation in organic farming before being popularized and adopted by farmers as a sustainable agronomical management strategy to increase soil fertility and food productivity.