Assessing the biological potential of N2-fixing Leguminosae in Botswana for increased crop yields and commercial exploitation
Keywords: Leguminosae, N2 fixation, crop yields, Botswana, rhizobia
AbstractThe Leguminosae are a major source of food, fodder, timber, phytochemicals, phytomedicine, nutriceuticals and N fertility in Botswana. Although the country is beset by drought as a result of low rainfall (150 – 650 mm per year) and high potential evapotranspiration, the Leguminosae appear adapted to this low-nutrient environment. Conducting field inoculation trials with infective rhizobia and selecting legume genotypes or host/strain combinations for increased plant growth would help identify superior symbiotic performers under the environmental stress conditions of Botswana. Thus, selecting high N2-fixing legume genotypes has the potential to overcome low soil fertility as a production constraint in Botswana, and increase fodder and grain production to support the growing local livestock and wildlife industries. Additionally, identifying native rhizobia in Botswana that alleviate water stress when in symbioses with legumes could be a first step to tapping the biological potential of the Leguminosae for increased yields in drier environments.
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