Photo K. Dhanji/ILRI

An assessment of plant growth and N2 fixation in soybean genotypes grown in uninoculated soils collected from different locations in Ethiopia

Achieving food and nutritional security is a major challenge in Ethiopia, especially with increasing human population and low crop productivity. Legumes offer an alternative choice to chemical fertilizers for increasing crop yields. The aim of this study was to assess, under glasshouse conditions, plant growth and symbiotic performance of uninoculated soybean genotypes planted in soils collected from different locations in Ethiopia. The results showed significant differences in plant growth and symbiotic performance among the soybean genotypes planted in different soils. There was a location-specific effect of soil on plant growth and symbiotic N nutrition of soybean. Whole-plant biomass was highest in soil from Amaro, followed by Boricha, Dorebafano, Pawe, and Mambuk. The δ15N values ranged from +0.82‰ for Pawe to +5.11‰ at Dorebafano. However, %Ndfa of soybean was greater in plants grown in Mambuk soil, followed by Pawe with the lowest %Ndfa being in Amaro soil. The amount of N-fixed followed similar pattern as %Ndfa. The significant interaction found between soil type and soybean genotype for plant DM, shoot N concentration, δ15N, %Ndfa, N-fixed and soil N-uptake clearly indicated the effect of soil factors. This study revealed the presence of native rhizobia in Ethiopian soils that are compatible with soybean. The N contribution of the soybean genotypes was variable, and strongly influenced by the soil factors.