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Response of Mucuna pruriens to symbiotic nitrogen fixation by rhizobia following inoculation in farmers' fields in the derived savanna of Benin
Leguminous cover crops such as Mucuna pruriens (mucuna) have the potential to contribute to soil N and increase the yields of subsequent or associated cereal crops through symbiotic N fixation. It has often been assumed that mucuna will freely nodulate, fix N2 and therefore contribute to soil N. However, results of recent work have indicated mucuna's failure to nodulate in some farmers' fields in the derived savanna in Benin. One of the management practices that can help to improve mucuna establishment and growth is the use of rhizobial inocula to ensure compatibility between the symbiotic partners. Experiments were conducted in 1995 and 1996 on 15 farmers' fields located in three different villages (Eglimé, Zouzouvou and Tchi) in the derived savanna in Benin. The aim was to determine the response of mucuna to inoculation and examine the factors affecting it when grown in relay cropping with maize. The actual amount of N2 fixed by mucuna in the farmers' fields at 20 weeks after planting (WAP) averaged 60 kg N ha-1 (range: 41-76 kg N ha-1) representing 55% (range: 49-58%) of the plant total N. The result suggested that mucuna in these farmers' fields could not meet its total N demand for growth and seed production only by No fixation. It was estimated that after grain removal mucuna led to a net N contribution ranging from -37 to 30 kg N ha-1. Shoot dry weight at 20 WAP varied between 1.5 and 8.7 t ha-1 and N accumulation ranged from 22 to
ISSN : 0178-2762 CODEN : BFSOEE
Biology and fertility of soils A. 2000, vol. 30, n° 5-6, pp. 558-565 [bibl. : 18 ref.]
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