Seeking an alternative to Sesbania spp. tree fallows, a Tephrosia species and provenance trial was conducted at Msekera Research Station, Chipata (Zambia) to evaluate eleven Tephrosia vogelii and three Tephrosia candida provenances. They were tested for biomass production, quality of biomass, resistance to root-knot nematodes, nitrogen release, and for their effects on soil nitrogen dynamics. At the end of 1.5 years, the T. candida provenances 02970, 02971 and 02972 from Madagascar produced two times greater amount of aboveground biomass than the T. vogelii provenances. There was little variability among the T. vogelii provenances in terms of litter and biomass production. Weed growth was significantly greater under T. vogelii than T. candida provenances. While Tephrosia vogelii provenance 98/02 from Zambia and T. candida 02972 were highly tolerant to the Meloidogyne incognita nematodes, T. vogelii provenances 02977, 98/03, 02973 from Kenya, Zambia and Malawi, respectively, were highly susceptible to the nematodes. The Tephrosia species and provenances showed a wide variability in terms of N, lignin and polyphenol concentration in their foliage. Mineralization of N in the foliage of T. candida provenances 02970 and 02971 and T. vogelii provenances 98/04 and 02974 from Malawi occurred rapidly within 14 weeks of incubation. At the end of the 2-year growth period, there was significantly greater total inorganic N under T. candida provenance 02972 (12.5 mg kg−1) than T. vogelii (5 mg kg−1) provenance Mungwi 98/02. Maize (Zea mays L.) yields after T. candida provenances were greater than those after T. vogelii provenances. Further testing of the most promising provenances is needed for their effects on subsequent maize yields under a range of farm conditions.
Biomass N mineralization Nematode resistance Planted fallows Residual effects Sesbania