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Practical aspects of mycorrhizal technology in some tropical crops and pastures


Greenhouse and field experiments were conducted on the effect of VA mycorrhiza (VAM) on the growth of cassava, various tropical grass and legume species, as well as beans, coffee and tea. A large number of VAM fungal species were evaluated for effectivity in increasing cassava growth and P uptake in acid low-P soils. The effectivity of VAM species and isolates was highly variable and dependent on soil pH and fertilizer applications, as well as on soil temperature and humidity. Two species,Glomus manihotis andEntrophospora colombiana were found to be most effective for a range of crops and pastures, at low pH and at a wide range of N, P, and K levels.

At very low P levels nearly all crops and pasture species were highly mycorrhizal dependent, but at higher soil P levels cassava and several pasture legumes were more dependent than grass species.

Mycorrhizal inoculation significantly increased cassava and bean yields in those soils with low or ineffective indigenous mycorrhizal populations. In these soils cassava root yields increased on the average 20–25% by VAM inoculation, both at the experiment station and in farmers’ fields. VAM inoculation of various pasture legumes and grasses, in combination with rock phosphate applications, increased their early growth and establishment. Agronomic practices such as fertilization, crop rotations, intercropping and pesticide applications were found to affect both the total VAM population as well as its species composition.

While there is no doubt about the importance of VA mycorrhiza in enhancing P uptake and growth of many tropical crops and pastures grown on low-P soils, much more research is required to elucidate the complicated soil-plant-VAM interactions and to increase yields through improved mycorrhizal efficiency.

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Howeler, R.H., Sieverding, E. & Saif, S. Practical aspects of mycorrhizal technology in some tropical crops and pastures. Plant Soil 100, 249–283 (1987).

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Key words

  • Acid soils
  • Agronomic practices
  • Beans
  • Cassava
  • Coffee
  • Environmental effects
  • Inoculation
  • VA mycorrhiza
  • VAM species effectivity
  • Tea
  • Tropical pastures
  • Yield