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Growth response of Mediterranean herbaceous swards to inoculation with Azospirillum brasilenseZaady, E.; Okon, Y.; Perevolotsky, A. (Society for Range Management, 1994-01-01)A study was conducted on the effect of the rhizobacterium Azospirillum brasilense strain Cd on the production of herbaceous swards growing at 2 rangeland habitats in Israel. One habitat was the semiarid zone (< 300 mm annual rainfall, calcareous soil on rocky slopes) while the other was a typical Mediterranean zone (approximately-600 mm annual rainfall, karstic rock covered with terra rossa soil). The inoculum was applied in water suspension at a concentration of 109 colony forming units (CFU) ml-1. The effect of inoculation was compared with P-fertilizer application at a rate of 5 g/m2. The same treatments were also applied on potted soil from the 2 sites. The semiarid ecosystem showed a strong response to Azospirillum inoculation, to P-fertilizer and to the combination of these 2 treatments, with aerial biomass production increasing by approximately fourfold in the treatments as compared with the control. The response to inoculation or P-fertilization was similar, with no interaction or additive effect noted for the combined treatment. At the Mediterranean site, the response to inoculation or P-fertilization alone was variable, with only a moderate effect on biomass production as compared with the control; however, the inoculation-fertilization interaction was highly significant and doubled biomass production. In the greenhouse experiment, the response to inoculation or fertilization was significant and the biomass production at the end of the growing season was approximately 50% higher than in the control. At both sites, standing biomass was greater in the treated plots already at early stages of growth, thereby potentially lengthening the effective grazing season. It is suggested that inoculation with Azospirillum brasilense on a commercial scale may offer a means of increasing rangeland production without resorting to costly and ecologically unfavorable fertilizer application.