Combined inoculation of rhizobia on the cowpea development in the soil of Cerrado

<div><p>ABSTRACT Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) plays an important role in the cowpea cultivation. This study aimed to assess the foliar levels of chlorophyll and the yield components of cowpea subjected to combined inoculation of rhizobia in Cerrado soil. The experiment was carried out in field conditions, from December of 2014 to the march of 2015, in Rondonópolis, Mato Grosso, using randomized block design with ten treatments and three replicates. Were tested the single strains MT8 and MT15 (both of R. tropici), MT16 (R. leguminosarum), BR3267 (Bradyrhizobium japonicum), the strains combinations MT8+MT15, MT8+MT16, MT15+MT16, and MT8+MT15+MT16, nitrogen fertilization (70 kg ha-1 of N-urea), and absolute control (without inoculation of rhizobia and without nitrogen fertilization). Data were subjected to analysis of variance and the averages were compared by orthogonal contrast and F test (p≤0.05). Were assessed the Falker chlorophyll index (at the 40 and 60 days after sowing), number and dry matter of nodules (at the 40 days after sowing), number of pods per plant, grains yield, the concentration and accumulation of nitrogen in grains, and crude protein. The number of pods per plant was increased 33.6% in the combination MT8+MT15. The same effect was observed for the yield grain, which presented an increase of 8.7%, 13.8%, and 16.7% in the combinations MT8+MT16, MT15+MT16, and MT8+MT15, respectively. The nitrogen accumulation in the grains increased 42.7% with the inoculation of MT15 strain. The cowpea responds positively to the usage of combinations of rhizobia strains.</p></div>