The nitrogen-fixing effectiveness of multistrain inoculants was found to be determined by both the effectiveness of the component strains and the percentage of the nodules occupied by them. Multistrain formulations were always either as good as the most effective single-strain inoculant or intermediate between the most and the least effective. The percentage of nodules occupied and the amount of nitrogen fixed by the component strains of a multistrain inoculant showed highly significant linear correlation. The availability of soil N had a significant influence on the nitrogen fixation potential of each strain. The mineral N status of the soil was clearly a significant factor in affecting the competition pattern of Rhizobium loti (chick-pea) and Bradyrhizobium japonicum strains. Differences between the effectiveness of strains were masked under conditions of soil N availability. However, when soil N was immobilized with sugarcane bagasse, the differences became significant. In the chick-pea system, R. loti TAL 1148 (Nit 27A8) was the most effective but not the most competitive of the three strains used. In the soybean and dry bean systems, B. japonicum TAL 102 (USDA 110) and R. leguminosarum bv. phaseoli TAL 182, respectively, were consistently the most effective and, more often than not, the most competitive of the strains used for each species
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