Soybean yields could benefit from the use of improved varieties, phosphate-fertilizer and rhizobium inoculants. In this study, we evaluated the results of widespread testing of promiscuous soybean varieties with four treatments: no inputs (control); SSP fertilizer (P); inoculants (I) and SSP plus inoculants (P + I) among smallholder farmers in northern Nigeria in 2011 and 2012. We observed a strong response to both P and I, which significantly increased grain yields by 452 and 447 kg ha−1 respectively. The additive effect of P + I (777 kg ha−1) resulted in the best average yields. Variability in yield among farms was large, which had implications for the benefits for individual farmers. Moreover, although the yield response to P and I was similar, I was more profitable due to its low cost. Only 16% of the variability in control yields could be explained by plant establishment, days to first weeding, percentage sand and soil exchangeable magnesium. Between 42% and 61% of variability in response to P and/or I could be explained by variables including year, farm size, plant establishment, total rainfall and pH. The predictive value of these variables was limited, however, with cross-validation R2 decreasing to about 15% for the prediction between Local Government Areas and 10% between years. Implications for future research include our conclusion that averages of performance of technologies tell little about the adoption potential for individual farmers. We also conclude that a strong agronomic and economic case exists for the use of inoculants with promiscuous soybean, requiring efforts to improve the availability of good quality inoculants in Africa.
Field Crops Research, 186, 133-145