A greenhouse experiment was set up to evaluate the effect of different cultural practices on the activity of Bradyrhizobium japonicum and of other soil microorganisms involved in nutrient cycling. The soil used was from a field experiment that consisted of continuous soybean or corn-soybean rotations as summer crops, with oats or Crotalaria juncea as winter crops. Treatments totaled eight cropping system regimes includig the coventional and minimal cultivation. Soil from a nearby natural forest was used as control. There were six replicate pots for each treatment, three of which were additionally inoculated with K japonicum inoculum when soybeans were sown. Plants were harvested at flowering and shoot dry matter and nitrogen concentration were determined, as well as nodule number, nodule weight and percent mycorrhizal colonization of roots. Soil samples from each field treatment that had been kept in the refrigerator were evaluated to determine the total number of bacteria, fungi, cellulolytic microorganisms and nitrifying bacteria. Soybeans grown in soil from minimal cultivation plots and from crop rotations demonstrated significantly greater nodulation and larger cellulolytic populations. Other microbial groups were not highly affected. Percent mycorrhizal infection of roots was extremely low in all treatments, probably due to the high available phosphate levels in all soils.
minimal cultivation; nodulation; soil cultivation regime; soil microorganisms; soybeans