Bioinoculants Reduce the Need of Mineral Fertilisers While Maintaining the Yield of Finger Millet and Pigeon Pea in Intercropping
Jegan Sekar1, Mathimaran Natarajan2, Thimmegowda Matadadoddi Nanjundegowda3, Prabavathy Vaiyapuri Ramalingam1, Kathiravan Raju1, Manjunatha Baiyapalli Narayanswamy3, Bhavitha Nayakanahalli Chikkegowda3, Bagyaraj Davis Joseph4, Ansgar Kahmen2, Thomas Boller2, Paul Maeder5
1M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, India
Agriculture is the livelihood for two-thirds of the 1.2 billion Indian population, yet food security continues to be a major threat due to stagnant productivity. In our project "BIOFI" (Biofertilisation and Bioirrigation), funded by the Indo-Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology (ISCB), we tested the combination of biofertilisation – by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) – and bioirrigation in finger millet–pigeon pea intercropping to ensure stable and sustainable yield increases. Three consecutive field trials were conducted at two different field sites (Kolli hills and Bengaluru) to test the effects of biofertilisers (AMF and PGPR), combined with mineral fertilisers, on the yield of finger millet and pigeon pea in mono- and intercropping systems under rain-fed conditions. The trials were designed with 20 treatments, each with 4 replicates, in mono and inter-cropping, with 100%, 50% or 0% of recommended dose of mineral fertilisers (RDF), with or without biofertilisers. The yield of both finger millet and pigeon pea was increased by biofertilisation, particularly in the intercropping system. In general, the yield with biofertilisers, combined with 50% RDF treatment, was on par with 100% RDF without bioinoculants in all the trials and both the sites. At 50% RDF, combined application of AMF and PGPR showed a significantly higher yield than single inoculations. Our study indicates marginal farmers could save up to 50% RDF without jeopardising grain yield.
Keywords: AMF, biofertilisers, bioirrigation, finger millet, intercropping, PGPR, pigeon pea
Contact Address: Jegan Sekar, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India, e-mail: jegan.sekarmssrf.res.in