THE EFFECT OF RHIZOBIUM SEED INOCULATION ON YIELDS AND QUALITY OF FORAGE AND SEED OF BERSEEM CLOVER (TRIFOLIUM ALEXANDRINUM L.) AND ITS IMPACT ON SOIL FERTILITY AND SMALLHOLDER FARMER’S INCOME
*M.S. Tufail1, G.L. Krebs1, J. Ahmad2, A. Southwell1, J.W. Piltz1,3 and P.C. Wynn1
1Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga NSW 2678, Australia
2University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Ravi Campus Pattoki 55300, Punjab, Pakistan
3New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Pine Gully Road Wagga Wagga NSW 2650, Australia
*Corresponding author’s email: shabi14L@yahoo.com
A field experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of Rhizobium seed inoculation on forage and seed yield components and the forage quality of berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum). The experiment comprised of two treatments, seed inoculation with Rhizobium trifolii and the non-inoculation (control). The results revealed that the seed inoculation significantly affected (P<0.005) and produced maximum number of stems/m2 (348.2), plant height (24.4cm), green forage yield (39.9 t/ha), dry matter yield (5.54 t/ha), number of heads per m2 (339), number of seeds per head (24.5), 1000-seed weight (3.851 g) and predicted seed yield (320 kg/ha) as compared to non-inoculated plots. The similar trend of results was also found in the forage quality parameters and seed inoculation produced maximum values of neutral detergent fiber (26.5%), crude protein (28.6%) and water soluble carbohydrates (2.02%). However, the acid detergent fiber (21.0%) and metabolisable energy (10.7%) were found to be non-significant. The use of Rhizobium inoculum also added available nitrogen (N) to soil after the crop increasing available N to 0.0414% as compared to 0.0283% in the non-inoculated control. The use of Rhizobium trifolii inoculum in combination with the improved variety Agaitti Berseem-2002, produced an additional net income of PKR 111,913 Rs/ha (US$ 1145/ha) compared to non-inoculated plots.
Key words: Forage development, forage quality, poverty alleviation, rural development, seed production, smallholder farmers.