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CHILEAN JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH 71(1):157-163 (JANUARY-MARCH 2011)

EFFECTS OF BIOFERTILIZERS COMBINED WITH DIFFERENT SOIL AMENDMENTS ON POTTED RICE PLANTS
Arshad Javaid1*

1University of the Punjab, Institute of Plant Pathology, Quaid-e- Azam Campus, Lahore, Pakistan. *Corresponding author (arshadjpk@yahoo.com). Received: 3 August 2010.
Accepted: 15 November 2010.



ABSTRACT
This pot study investigated the effect of the combined application of two commercial biofertilizers viz. Biopower and EM (Effective Microorganisms) on rice (Oryza sativa L.) growth and yield in soils amended with farmyard manure, green manure, and NPK fertilizers. Biopower is a product of the Nuclear Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Pakistan, which contains species of associative and endophytic diazotrophs. EM (effective microorganisms), a product developed by Japanese scientists, consists of co-existing beneficial microorganisms, mainly species of photosynthetic and lactic acid bacteria, as well as yeast. Applying Biopower adversely affected plant growth and yield in NPK fertilizer amendment. Conversely, this biofertilizer markedly enhanced plant growth and yield in green manure amended soil while its effect was not significant in farmyard manure amendment. In green manure amendment, applying EM enhanced grain yield by 46%. Co-inoculation of Biopower and EM evidently improved root and shoot growth in farmyard manure amended soil. This study concludes that the two biofertilizers clearly enhanced shoot biomass and grain yield in green manure amended soils.
Key words: Associated N2-fixers, Biopower, effective microorganisms, rice, soil amendments.


INTRODUCTION
Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is probably the most important cereal in the world and serves as food for about 50% of the world’s population (Ladha et al., 1997). This crop requires about 10 million tons of N fertilizers every year worldwide (IRRI, 1996). Rice is usually grown in N-deficient soils, and this element must be supplied to the field by commercially available N fertilizers. However, a substantial amount of urea-N or NO3-N applied as fertilizers is lost through different mechanisms, thus causing environmental pollution problems. Use of biological N2-fixation technology can decrease N fertilizer application and reduce environmental risks (Raimam et al., 2007). This process can contribute as much as 75 kg N ha-1 per crop cycle with means of 8 to 30 kg N ha-1 (Irissarri and Reinhold-Hurek, 2001). These N-fixing bacteria may be free-living or naturally associated to rice plants. Recent studies have shown that several bacteria may be isolated from sterilized surface roots of flooded rice plants, suggesting endophytic colonization (Raimam et al., 2007). The most likely candidates for biological N fixation in rice are species of Alcaligenes, Azospirillum, Bacillus, Enterobacter, Herbaspirillum, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, and Rhizobium (Malik et al., 1997; James et al., 1999; Yanni et al., 1997). From the soil and plant materials collected from different areas of Pakistan, scientists of the Nuclear Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad, Pakistan have isolated a number of bacterial strains belonging to the Azospirillum, Azotobacter, Pseudomonas, and Zoogloes genera. After laboratory testing and studying field performance, efficient bacterial strains for biofertilizer production were finally selected.A suitable carrier material was selected after trying a number of local materials to ensure maximum survival of the inoculated bacteria during storage and transportation. They named this biofertilizer Biopower.

EM (effective microorganisms) technology of nature farming was introduced by Higa (1991). EM culture consists of co-existing beneficial microorganisms, mainly species of photosynthetic bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas plastris and Rhodobacter sphaerodes), lactobacilli (Lactobacillus plantarum, L. casei, and Streptococcus lactis), yeast (Saccharomyces spp.), and actinomycetes (Streptomyces spp.), which improve crop growth and yield by increasing photosynthesis, producing bioactive substances, such as hormones and enzymes, controlling soil diseases, and accelerating decomposition of lignin materials in the soil (Higa, 2000; Hussain et al., 2002). This technology of nature farming was introduced in Pakistan in 1990 by the Nature Farming Research Centre of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Numerous field and greenhouse trials indicate the benefits of EM as a biofertilizer in crop production, as a probiotic in poultry and livestock rations, and as a starter to improve composting and recycling of municipal/industrial wastes and effluents (Hussain et al., 1999). There are controversial reports about the effect of applying EM on crop growth and yield. Many researchers have reported an increase in crop growth and yield by applying EM (Daly and Stewart, 1999; Yan and Xu, 2002; Javaid, 2006; 2009; Khaliq et al., 2006; Javaid and Mahmood, 2010). However, other researchers have revealed that the effect of EM on crop growth and yield was not usually evident or even negative, especially in the first test crop (Bajwa et al., 1999; Daiss et al., 2008; Javaid et al., 2008, Javaid and Shah, 2010).

Earlier researchers conducted studies by using either effective microorganisms or associative N2- fixing organisms. However, there are no studies on the effect of combined inoculation of these two biofertilizers on rice growth and yield. Therefore, this pot study investigated the effect of the combined application of effective microorganisms and Biopower on rice growth and yield in soil amended either with NPK fertilizers or two types of organic manures viz. farmyard and green.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
Soil characteristics
Loamy textured soil with organic matter 0.9%, pH 7.8, 0.045% N, 14 mg kg-1 available P, and 210 mg kg-1 available K was employed in the experiment. Micronutrients Fe, Cu, and Zn were 9.53, 1.71, and 4.42 mg kg-1 of soil, respectively. The experiment was conducted in the Botanical Garden of the University of the Punjab, Lahore (31.57° N, 74.31° E), Pakistan.

Soil amendments
Earthen pots, 20-cm diameter and 30-cm depth, were filled with 5 kg soil. Soil was amended either with farmyard manure at 4 g 100 g-1, Trifolium alexandrianum green manure at 3 g 100 g-1 (on dry weight basis), or NPK fertilizers. A basal dose of 40 mg kg-1 N as urea (half of recommended dose), 30 mg kg-1 P2O5 as triple superphosphate, and 20 mg kg-1 K2O as potassium sulfate was supplied to NPK treatment pot soil. NPK fertilizers were mixed 3 d prior to sowing. All pots were irrigated with tap water and left for 20 d for organic material decomposition.

Treatments and experimental design
There were four treatments, with three replicates, for each of the three soil amendment systems. These were; i) control, ii) effective microorganisms, iii) Biopower, and iv) Biopower + effective microorganisms. The experimental design was completely randomized. Pots were arranged on a bench in a wire-netting greenhouse under natural environmental conditions.

Effective microorganism application
The effective microorganism (EM) culture, commercially known as EM Bioaab, was obtained from the Nature Farming Research and Development Foundation, Faisalabad, Pakistan. EM contained high populations of lactic acid bacteria at 1 × 1011 cfu mL-1, photosynthetic bacteria at 1 × 106 cfu mL-1, and 1 × 103 cfu mL-1 yeast suspension (Higa, 2000). Stock culture was diluted by adding tap water to prepare a 0.2% solution. The fresh solution was used immediately. The respective treatment pots with effective microorganisms applied in all three soil amendment systems were irrigated with a 0.2% diluted EM solution 15 d prior to sowing. Each pot received 1 L of diluted EM solution. These pots were further supplemented with 1 L of 0.2% EM solution every 2 wk throughout the experimental period (Yadav, 2002).

Biopower application
Commercial Biopower was obtained from the Nuclear Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Faisalabad, Pakistan. Biopower was mixed in 100 g L-1 water. One-month-old rice plants var. Super Basmati were immersed in the Biopower solution for 1 h and transplanted three plants per pot. All pots were flooded with tap water. Flooded conditions were maintained throughout the experimental period, except during the last month.

Harvesting
Plants were harvested 90, 120, and 150 d after sowing. Shoot length was measured and number of tillers was counted for each plant. Root and shoot materials were dried at 60 oC until constant weight and then weighed. Grain yield per plant and 100-grain weight were also recorded at final harvest.

Statistical analysis
There were three replicates for each treatment, and mean data per plant was calculated for various studied parameters. Data of various root and shoot growth, as well as yield parameters were subjected to ANOVA. This was followed by Duncan’s Multiple Range Test with the SPSS and CoStat software to delineate mean differences (Steel and Torrie, 1980).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Effect of biofertilizers and soil amendments on plant vegetative growth
ANOVA shows that the effect of soil amendments (A) was significant for all root and shoot growth parameters at the three growth stages (Tables 1 and 3). In general, plant growth was better in farmyard manure than in NPK fertilizers and green manure amendments (Table 2). Except in some cases, the general effect of EM and Biopower (B) was not significant for various vegetative growth parameters at different growth stages. The interactive effect of A × B and A × EM was significant for root biomass at the 90 d growth stage. Similarly, the effect of A × EM was significant for shoot length at the 120 and 150 d growth stages. The tripartite interactive effect of A × B × EM was significant for shoot length at all three growth stages, and for root biomass at 120 and 150 d (Tables 1 and 3).

Effect of the two biofertilizers on shoot length was not significant in all three soil amendment systems at the 90 d growth stage. At 120 d, combined inoculation of the two biofertilizers markedly enhanced shoot length in NPK and green manure amended soils. Applying Biopower at the final growth stage significantly enhanced shoot length in green manure and farmyard manure amended soils. EM applied either alone or combined with Biopower did not result in a significant increase in shoot length (Table 2).

Number of tillers in different soil amendment systems varied at the first two growth stages with the effect of single as well as combined inoculation of the two biofertilizers. In general, applying biofertilizer either reduced tillering or exhibited no effect on this parameter. However, at the final growth stage, the number of tillers significantly increased with EM application, either alone or combined with Biopower, in the farmyard manure amendment (Table 2).

At different growth stages, shoot biomass either declined or remained unaffected due to separate or combined inoculation of the two biofertilizers in NPK fertilizer amended soil. In contrast, in the green manure amendment, both biofertilizers generally increased shoot biomass at all three growth stages. The effect of both biofertilizers was not appreciable at the 90 and 120 d growth stages in the farmyard manure amendment. However, at the 150 d growth stage, a marked increase in shoot biomass was recorded by both biofertilizers. The effect of combined inoculation was more evident than when they were used alone (Table 2).

Variable response of root biomass to two applied biofertilizers was recorded in different soil amendment systems. There was no definite pattern of root biomass production at different growth stages in response to either of the two biofertilizer treatments in NPK fertilizers. Both biofertilizers generally enhanced root biomass at different growth stages in the green manure amendment. In the farmyard manure amendment, after an initial decline at the 90 and 120 d growth stages due to both biofertilizers, root biomass was enhanced by EM and EM + Biopower applied at the 150 d growth stage. Effect of combined inoculation of the two biofertilizers was much more evident than EM applied alone (Table 2).

Table 1. ANOVA for the effect of soil amendments, biopower, and EM application on various rice vegetative growth parameters after 90 and 120 d growth stages.


90 d after sowing




120 d after sowing


df
Shoot length
No of tillers per plant
Shoot biomass
Root Biomass
Shoot Length
No of tillers per plant
Shoot biomass
Root biomass
Treatments1148ns104***29***22***
127***
70***466***122***
Amendments (A)
2
134**
517***
145***
91***
196*
356***
178***
523***
Biopower (B)
1
0.22ns
17ns
1.16ns
0.58ns
51ns
1.78ns
0.41ns
2.26ns
EM1
13ns
47**
0.05ns
1.14ns
0.03ns
0.00ns
0.03ns
0.04ns
AxB2
4.4ns
5.9ns
4.29ns
20***
61ns
2.53ns
1.79ns
9.94ns
AxEM2
12ns
8.7ns
8.49ns
6.2*
179*
0.25ns
2.67ns
13.2ns
BxEM
1
28
0.25ns
0.12ns
0.02ns
72ns
16ns
1.03ns
88***
AxBxEM
2
93*
7.6ns
2.8ns
3.4ns
199*
17ns
0.89ns
81***
Error
24
27
6.3
3.24
1.5
45
7.7
178
7.8
Total
36








*, **, ***: significant at P≤ 0.05, 0.01, and 0.001, respectively. ns: non significant.

Table 2. Effect of soil amendments, biopower, and EM application on various rice vegetative growth parameters after 90,120, and 150 d growth stages.


90 d after sowing


120 d after sowing



150 d after sowing


TreatmentsSLTPPSBRBSLTPPSBRB
SL
TPP
SB
RB

cm

gcm
g
cm

g

NPK fertilizers












Control57.0a-c
9cd
3.9de
2.11d
91a-c
9c
19.5bc
4.4d
88b-d
11c
17.4cd
6.7c
BP50.2c
10c
2.87de
4.96bc
84bc
9c
16.0c
5.3d
82cd
8c
9.8d
5.7c
EM51.5bc
7cd
1.45e
1.53d
82c
10c
19.0bc
3.4d
79d
10c
15.2cd
4.8c
BP + EM
57.8a-c
5d
2.42de
1.78d
100a
9c
22.2bc
3.9d
84cd
10c
14.9cd
11.4c
Green Manure












Control57ac
10c
3.0de
1.81d
90a-c
10c
18.7bd
4.7d
88bd
11c
52.5bc
7.5c
BP
55ac
9cd
4.5de
2.33d
96ab
10c
21.5bc
4.6d
100a
12c
60.3b
17.5c
EM
57ac
9cd
5.7bd
2.33d
96ab
7c
19.2bc
6.7cd
94ac
11c
59.3bc
18.1c
BP + EM
61ab
9cd
5.5cd
3.25cd
100a
10c
24.3b
7.6cd
98ab
9c
50.8bd
12.0c
Farmyard manure












Control60ac
23a
10.1a
9.3a
102a
20ab
47a
23a
89b-d
20b
125a
48b
BP
63a
19ab
8.9ab
5.3bc
102a
18ab
46a
11bc
102a
20b
141a
45b
EM
63a
19ab
10.1a
8.5a
96ab
16b
44ab
13b
92a-c
24a
156a
57ab
BP + EM
58a-c
17b
8.2a-c
6.1b
90a-c
21a
42a-c
19a
93a-c
25a
159a
75a
Values with different letters in a column are significantly different according to Duncan’s Multiple Range Test (P ≤ 0.05). SL: Shoot length; TPP: Tillers per plant; SB: Shoot biomass; RB: Root biomass; BP: Biopower; BP+EM: Biopower+EM; EM: effective microorganisms.

Table 3. ANOVA for the effect of soil amendments, biopower, and EM application on various rice vegetative and reproductive growth parameters at maturity (150 d after sowing).

Mean Squares



TraitdfShoot length
No of tillers per plant
Shoot biomass
Root Biomass
Grain yield
100-grain weight
Treatments11957***92***5596***836***105***0.050***
Amendments (A)
2734***1426***28921***517***432***0.158***
Biopower (B)
1174*5.8ns16ns29ns12ns0.024ns
EM10.6532.7ns118ns170*
13ns0.002ns
AxB240ns0.93ns32ns3.3ns20ns0.035*
AxEM2131*2.8ns152ns91ns55**
0.052**
BxEM
1
27ns3.3ns20
ns
87
ns
5
ns
0.004ns
AxBxEM
2
381***
14.8ns83
ns
183**
57**
0.002ns
Error
24
39
5.9
149
39
11
0.011
Total
36






*, **, *** significant at P ≤ 0.05, P ≤ 0.01, and P ≤ 0.001, respectively. ns: non significant.

Effect of biofertilizers and soil amendments on plant reproductive growth ANOVA shows that the effect of soil amendment was significant for grain yield and 100-grain weight. In contrast, effects of EM and Biopower were not significant for both these reproductive growth parameters. Effect of A × B was significant for 100-grain weight while A × EM was significant for both grain yield and 100-grain weight. Tripartite interaction of A × B × EM was significant for grain yield (Table 3).

Grain yield showed a variable response to Biopower and EM in different soil amendments. Applying Biopower in the NPK fertilizer amendment resulted in a 55% reduction in grain yield. Conversely, in the green manure amendment, a significant 99% increase in grain yield was recorded by applying Biopower. The effect of applying Biopower in the farmyard manure amendment was not observable (Figure 1A). EM application enhanced grain yield by 46% in the green manure amendment. In contrast, there was a 24% reduction in grain yield by applying EM in farmyard manure. The effect of combining EM and Biopower was not significant in none of the three soil amendment systems (Fig. 1A). Earlier studies depicted variable effects of EM application on crop growth and yield; some researchers have shown positive effects of EM (Javaid, 2006; Khaliq et al., 2006; Javaid and Bajwa, 2010) while others reported negative or no effects (Bajwa et al., 1999; Formowitz et al., 2007; Daiss et al., 2008). According to Kinjo et al. (2000), the lack of consistency in experimental results when applying EM may be due to variable cultural conditions employed in previous studies. However, this study reveals that the effect of applying EM on crop growth and yield is associated with the type of soil amendment used.
Biopower and EM Application On Rice Yield

Values with different letters at the top of the bars are significantly different according to Duncan’s Multiple Range Test (P ≤ 0.05).
Figure 1. Effect of Biopower and EM application on rice grain yield, 100-grain weight, and harvest index in different soil amendment systems. Vertical bars show standard error of means of three replicates.


Inoculation of EM and Biopower, either alone or combined, enhanced 100-grain weight in the NPK fertilizer amendment. The effect of Biopower and combined inoculation was significant. In contrast, applying biofertilizer to farmyard manure reduced 100-grain weight. In green manure amended soil, the effect of either biofertilizer was not significant (Figure 1B). The effect of the two biofertilizers on the harvest index in different soil amendment systems was generally similar to effect on grain yield (Figure 1C).

CONCLUSIONS
This study concludes that the beneficial effects of EM and Biopower can best be exploited by using them combined with a suitable soil amendment. Both of these biofertilizers markedly enhanced rice shoot biomass and grain yield in the green manure amendment.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We express our sincere thanks to Prof. Dr. Tahir Hussain, Director of the Nature Farming Research Centre, Faisalabad for providing us with EM solution and to Dr. Fouzia Yousaf Hafeez, NIBGE Pakistan, for providing us with Biopower.


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