A better understanding of nitrogen (N) behavior and agronomic practices is needed to improve biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) and N use efficiency under field conditions. This study aims on investigating the potential for the use of biological agents that can fix atmospheric N and are related to multiple mechanisms benefits to improve cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) development and productivity, leading to a positive residual effect on wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) development. The study was set up under a no-till system in a Rhodic Haplustox, in a randomized complete block design, with four replicates. Treatments were tested in a full factorial design and included: i) three types of inoculation (without inoculation – control; Bradyrhizobium sp. inoculation (strains SEMIA 6462 and SEMIA 6463) – the conventional inoculation of cowpea; and Bradyrhizobium sp. combined with A. brasilense (strains Ab-V5 and Ab-V6) – the co-inoculation); and ii) five N rates (0 to 160 kg N ha−1) applied as urea-15N isotope. The residual effects of inoculations and N application rates applied during the cowpea growing season were evaluated on wheat (successor crop). Co-inoculation was found to increase cowpea grain yield by 40.5% and 14.1% compared to the control and Bradyrhizobium sp. inoculation when N was omitted and up to 37.6% and 50.8% when N was applied. Co-inoculation increased N use efficiency, N recovery and N accumulation on cowpea, leading to improved crop growth. The co-inoculation also provided a positive residual effect on wheat resulting in increased plant N accumulation, crop development, and greater wheat grain yield compared to the control (increase of 7.8%) and Bradyrhizobium sp. inoculated plants (increase of 5.8%). Co-inoculation was found to increase N use efficiency on cowpea by 216.5% and 35.5% and on wheat by 159.3% and 29.5% compared to control and Bradyrhizobium sp. inoculation, respectively. The fertilizer N recovery was, on average, 22.2% by cowpea, while fertilizer N recovery by wheat was <2.3%. The percentage of N accumulated on cowpea was on average 30.8%, while the residual cowpea N contribution to wheat provided by co-inoculation was 18.6%. This study showed positive improvements in cowpea-wheat growth production parameters and N management as a result of co-inoculation, indicating that there is an opportunity to reduce N fertilizer input with the combined use of biological agents that promote plant growth and chemical fertilizers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo - FAPESP [grant number 18/08485-7 ] and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico - CNPq [grant number 312359/2017-9 ].
This work was supported by the Funda??o de Amparo ? Pesquisa do Estado de S?o Paulo - FAPESP [grant number 18/08485-7] and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cient?fico e Tecnol?gico - CNPq [grant number 312359/2017-9].
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.
- Biological nitrogen fixation
- Efficiency of nitrogen fertilization
- Plant growth promoting bacteria
- Residual effect of N