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Open Access Evaluating the Effectiveness of Different Rhizobia Strains and Their Effect on Crop Yields in Acid Soils of Western Kenya

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Food insecurity in Sub - Saharan Africa (SSA) is on the rise due to soil fertility depletion and in Kenya, Nitrogen (N) is one of the widely deficient nutrients. Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) can replenish N into the soil system. A study was carried out in acid soils at Koyonzo and Ligala sites of western Kenya to determine the effectiveness of different inoculants after agricultural lime application in enhancing BNF and yields of groundnuts (Arachis hypogea L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) intercrop. Red Valencia groundnut variety was intercropped with Hybrid 513D maize variety. A6w, W1w and V2w indigenous rhizobia strains were tested alongside a commercial rhizobia strain called biofix. Nitrogen treatment was included as a positive control. The results showed that inoculation significantly increased nodule number and weight per plant. There were significant differences among indigenous rhizobia in fixing N. Rhizobia inoculation accounted for 58.91% and 78.95% increase in the amount of N fixed above the control at Koyonzo and Ligala respectively. The strain that fixed the highest amount of N was A6w followed by V2w and W1w at both sites under the dolomitic soil amendment with the values of 14.67, 9.56, 3.53 and 11.37, 8.20 and 1.50 kg N ha-1, respectively at Koyonzo and Ligala sites. Rhizobia inoculation accounted for 80.96% and 47.09% maize yield increase at Koyonzo and Ligala respectively. The best inoculant A6w, gave maize yields of 3.76 and 2.78 t ha-1 at Koyonzo and Ligala, respectively. In conclusion soil amendment with dolomitic lime and inoculating groundnuts with rhizobia strain A6w resulted in increased groundnut and maize yields. This practice can, therefore, be adopted by farmers in western Kenya to improve the productivity of the groundnut maize intercropping systems.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Agriculture and Biotechnology, P. O. Box 1125, 2: School of Science, University of Eldoret. P. O. Box 1125 3: School of Agriculture and Biotechnology, P. O. Box 1125

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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