Comparing the interactive effects of water and nitrogen on durum wheat and barley grown in a Mediterranean environment.

Book Title: NA
Year Published: 2010
Month Published: NA
Author: Albrizio, R. ; Todorovic, M. ; Matic, T. ; Stellacci, A.M.
Book Group Author: NA

The understanding of the interactive effect of water and N availability, associated with the ability of crops to efficiently use these resources, is a crucial issue for stabilizing cereal production in Mediterranean areas. A 3-year side by side experiment on durum wheat and barley, under different water regimes and nitrogen levels, was carried out in a typical Mediterranean environment of Southern Italy, to identify the outstanding features of these species that contribute to enhanced grain yield and improved water and nitrogen use efficiency. Wheat and barley response was assessed under three water supply regimes (I100, I50, I0: full irrigation, 50% of full irrigation and rainfed) coupled with two N fertilizer levels (high N: 120 kg ha-1 and low N: not fertilized). In order to evaluate barley yield response under lower N rates, 60 kg ha-1 were applied in 2006. The occurrence of abundant rainfall during the experimental period determined only mild water stress during most of the growing season, especially in 2006 and 2007. Under these conditions, nitrogen fertilization was the main factor affecting crop response, and different crop traits in response to irrigation were primarily evident on tissue N concentrations. Grain number per unit land area explained a high proportion of grain yield and it was mainly influenced by N fertilization. Water availability enhanced N absorption: the response of both crops to N fertilization, in terms of N uptaken and grain N concentration, was higher in the year characterized by greater water availability during the most sensitive stages to drought stress. Under unfertilized conditions, the two crops showed similar response in terms of number of grains per unit land area; under N fertilization, barley exhibited a higher increase in number of grains per unit land area, but wheat achieved similar yields as consequence of the higher grain weight. In years characterized by similar average productivity of wheat, barley did not show further increase in number of seeds, even doubling the rate of N supplied. By increasing irrigation water supply, the two crops showed a similar yield response, but a different N partition, as confirmed by the lower nitrogen harvest index values for barley over 2007-2008. At similar total availability of N, barley reached higher N utilization efficiency than wheat, mainly because of a lower N concentration in the grain rather than a higher efficiency in using the available N.

Pages: 179 - 190
Volume: 115
Number: 2
Journal: Field Crops Research
Journal ISO: NA
Organization: NA
Publisher: NA
ISSN: 0378-4290

Grain yield; Water use efficiency; Nitrogen use efficiency; Nitrogen uptake; Triticum durum Desf.; Hordeum vulgare L.

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