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Effect of nitrogen, phosphorus and molybdenum application on growth and symbiotic N2-fixation of groundnut in an acid sandy soil in Niger


Two field experiments were conducted in 1988 and 1989 on an acid sandy soil in Niger, West Africa, to assess the effect of phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N) and micronutrient (MN) application on growth and symbiotic N2-fixation of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.). Phosphorus fertilizer (16 kg P ha−1) did not affect pod yields. Addition of MN fertilizer (100 kg ‘Fetrilon Combi 1’ ha−1; P + MN) containing 0.1% molybdenum (Mo) increased pod yield by 37–86%. Nitrogen concentration in shoots at mid pod filling (72 days after planting) were higher in P + MN than in P − MN fertilizer treatment. Total N uptake increased from 53 (only P) to 108 kg N ha−1 by additional MN application. Seed pelleting (P + MoSP) with 100 g Mo ha−1 (MoO3) increased nitrogenase activity (NA) by a factor of 2–4 compared to P treatment only. The increase in NA was mainly due to increase in nodule dry weight and to a lesser extent to increase in specific nitrogenase activity (SNA) per unit nodule dry weight. The higher NA of the P + MoSP treatment was associated with a higher total N uptake (55%) and pod yield (24%). Compared to P + MoSP or P + MN treatments application of N by mineral fertilizer (60 kg N ha−1) or farmyard manure (130 kg N ha−1) increased only yield of shoot dry matter but not pod dry matter. Plants supplied with N decreased soil water content more and were less drought tolerant than plants supplied with Mo. The data suggest that on the acid sandy soils in Niger N deficiency was a major constraint for groundnut production, and Mo availability in soils was insufficient to meet the Mo requirement for symbiotic N2-fixation of groundnut.

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Hafner, H., Ndunguru, B.J., Bationo, A. et al. Effect of nitrogen, phosphorus and molybdenum application on growth and symbiotic N2-fixation of groundnut in an acid sandy soil in Niger. Fertilizer Research 31, 69–77 (1992).

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Key words

  • Molybdenum availability
  • symbiotic N2-fixation
  • Arachis hypogaea
  • acetylene reduction assay