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Improving Snap Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Production under Reduced Input Systems



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Snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) production by large scale commercial producers in Ethiopia is under intensive production and relies on high rates of nitrogen (N) fertilizer and irrigation during the dry season. Despite increasing interest to produce this crop, small scale farmers cannot afford the high cost of N fertilizer. Field and greenhouse experiments were conducted to test snap bean production under a low input production system better suited to small scale resource limited farmers. Field experiments were conducted in 2011 and 2012 under rain fed conditions, and in 2012 under irrigation, at three locations (Debre Zeit, Hawassa, Ziway) representing different climate zones in Ethiopia. This experiment used three N treatments: 0 and 100 kg N ha-1, and inoculation with Rhizobium etli [HB 429], and eight cultivars: Andante, Boston Contender Blue, Lomami, Melkassa 1, Melkassa 3, Paulista and Volta. The general objective of the field experiment was to determine the potential of snap bean production under a low input production system using rhizobium inoculation as the nitrogen source, and use rain fed conditions. Results obtained indicated that rhizobial inoculation and applied inorganic N increased on average the marketable pod yield of snap bean under rain fed conditions by 18 % and 43%, respectively. Nodulation and subsequent N2 fixation was not effective in improving yield or other traits of snap bean pod under irrigation, although applied N increased marketable yield by 33%. Melkassa 1 was the most suitable cultivar for a reduced input production system due to its successful nodulation characteristics, greatest N2 fixation levels and consistently good performance across locations under rain fed conditions. Commercial cultivars possessed the best pod quality characteristics and they yielded better under irrigation. Cultivars interacted with locations to affect pod traits including total soluble solids and concentrations of protein, calcium, and potassium under rain fed conditions. Snap bean cultivrs produced at Debre Zeit and Hawassa were similar in marketable yield and several other traits particularly under rain fed conditions. Zinc (Zn) concentration in pods was greatest at Hawassa both under rain fed and irrigated conditions. Conditions at Debre Zeit were the most conducive for supporting biological N2 fixation for snap bean production. The eight cultivars were also used for a greenhouse study that was evaluated treatments of drought stress of 50% field capacity (50% FC) during the vegetative (V4.4), flowering (R6) and pod formation (R7) developmental stages. Our result showed that drought stresses during reproductive stages (R6 and R7) were the most sensitive stages in deteriorating the quality of snap bean pods. Drought stress increased protein, phosphorus and Zn concentrations but it reduced iron concentration in snap bean pods. All cultivars had a similar response to drought stress. A second greenhouse experiment was conducted to test foliar application of growth regulators: the control, 10-5 M and 10-4 M concentrations of each of abscisic acid (ABA), kinetin and salicylic acid (SA); and two concentrations of yeast extract (4 g l-1 and 8 g l-1), under drought (50% FC) stressed and unstressed conditions. Foliar application of SA on snap bean under greenhouse conditions reduced the impact of drought stress, particularly the pod quality parameters: marketable yield, pod curving, texture and appearance of snap bean pods. However, application of ABA, kinetin and SA reduced pod quality of snap bean under unstressed conditions. In conclusion, pod yield improvement could be achieved by a N2 fixation system under rain fed conditions, which is more sustainable than N fertilizer inputs. Pod quality was also adequate for commercial export production. Rhizobium inoculant can therefore be used as an alternative N source, particularly under low input production system for resource-limited small-scale snap bean producers.



Snap bean, Pod quality, Drought stress, Rhizobium, Growth regulator, Nutrient concentration



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Plant Sciences


Plant Science


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