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Nostoc cyanobacterial inoculation in South African agricultural soils enhances soil structure, fertility, and maize growth

AuthorsMaqubela, M. P.; Mnkeni, P. N. S.; Malam Issa, O.; Pardo Fernández, María Teresa ; D’Acqui, L. P.
KeywordsAggregate stability
Exo-cellular polymeric substances
South Africa
Issue Date2009
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationPlant and Soil 315: 79-92 (2009)
AbstractMany soils in South Africa have low nutrient supply, poor structural stability and are prone to soil erosion due to susceptibility to surface sealing and crusting. Two crusting soils from the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa were used to evaluate the effects of inoculation with a strain of Nostoc on soil structure, fertility and maize growth. The Nostoc suspension was uniformly applied over potted soils at a rate of 6g (dry weight) per square meter soon after maize germination. Nostoc inoculation increased soil N by 17% and 40% in Hertzog and Guquka soils, respectively. Soil C was also increased significantly and this increase was strongly associated with that of soil N (R2 = 0.838). The highest contents of soil C, soil N and mineral N, however, were found in non-cropped Nostoc inoculated soils. Nostoc inoculation increased maize dry matter yields by 49% and 40% in Hertzog and Guquka soils, respectively. Corresponding increases in maize tissue N were 23% and 14%, respectively. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed that soil particles and fragments of non-cropped inoculated soils had coatings of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) with other particles enmeshed in networks of filaments, whilst by contrast little or no EPS and/or filaments were observed on cropped and/or non-inoculated soils. This was consistent with chemical analysis which showed that Nostoc caused significant increases in the EPS and soil C contents of non-cropped soils. The proportion of very stable aggregates was increased by inoculation with Nostoc possibly due to the greater quantities of soil C and EPS observed in inoculated soils. Inoculated soils cropped with maize had a lower proportion of stable aggregates presumably due to their low soil C and EPS contents compared to non-cropped soils. The results suggested that Nostoc could improve the fertility and structural stability of the studied degraded soils.
Description13 pages, figures, and tables statistics.
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