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Differential response of six cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) cultivars to liming in an ultisol


The differential response of six cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) cultivars to liming was assessed in a greenhouse trial using an Ultisol (Typic Paleudult) from southeastern Nigeria. Lime rates from 0 to 5.0 t/ha were applied to give a range of soil pH, determined in 1∶1 soil/water from 4.25 to about 7.0. Without liming, relative dry matter yields of tops ranged between 46.6 and 76.8 percent. Significant yield responses to the first lime increment (0.5 t/ha) were observed particularly in the less tolerant cultivars and maximum yields were generally obtained with application of 1.6 to 2.5 t/ha lime.

Among the six cultivars, TVu 4557 and Ife Brown were most tolerant, Vita-1 and Vita-3 were moderately tolerant, and TVu 1977-OD and TVu 4552 were least tolerant to soil acidity. The latter two cultivars were the most poorly nodulated when grown in the unlimed soil. The first lime increment enabled excellent nodulation to be achieved in all cultivars. Nitrogen analyses on tops confirmed the visual symptoms of nitrogen deficiency in two cultivars (Vita-1, TVu 1977-OD) grown in the unlimed soil. Analysis of data on chemical composition of plant tops and chemical soil characteristics gave indications that aluminium toxicity is the major growth limiting factor for cowpeas in this soil.

This study, albeit with a limited range of cowpea germplasm clearly indicates that cowpea possesses considerable potential as a grain legume on strongly acid soils (pH<5.0), even in circumstances where lime is not available. Low rates of lime (0.5 t/ha or less) will greatly expand the available choice of cultivars.

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Edwards, D.G., Kang, B.T. & Danso, K.A. Differential response of six cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) cultivars to liming in an ultisol. Plant Soil 59, 61–73 (1981).

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Key Words

  • Acetylen reduction assay
  • Aluminium toxicity
  • Chemical composition
  • Cowpea
  • Cultivar tolerance to soil acidity
  • Liming
  • Nitrogen deficiency
  • Nitrogenase activity
  • Nodulation
  • Relative dry matter yields
  • Soil acidity
  • Ultisol
  • Lime-induced yield depression