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Optimizing irrigation and nitrogen fertilization for seed yield in western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) Á. Löve] using a large multi-factorial field design.

Chen, Zhao; Liu, Xv; Niu, Junpeng; Zhou, Wennan; Zhao, Tian; Jiang, Wenbo; Cui, Jian; Kallenbach, Robert; Wang, Quanzhen.
PLoS One; 14(6): e0218599, 2019.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31242244
It is crucial for agricultural production to identify the trigger that switches plants from vegetative to reproductive growth. Agricultural sustainability in semiarid regions is challenged by nitrogen (N) fertilizer overuse, inadequate soil water, and heavy carbon emissions. Previous studies focused on the short-term effects of a single application of N and water but have not investigated the long-term effects of different irrigation and N fertilizer regimens on crop yields and yield components. N application is routinely coupled with water availability, and crop yields can be maximized by optimizing both. We examined the growth of western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) Á. Löve], a temperate-region forage and turf grass, using multiple different combinations of N fertilizer [(NH4)2·CO3] and irrigation levels over 3 years to determine optimal field management. We conducted multifactorial, orthogonally designed field experiments with large sample sizes, and measured fertile tillers m-2 (Y1), spikelets/fertile tillers (Y2), florets/spikelet (Y3), seed numbers/spikelet (Y4), seed weight (Y5), and seed yield (Z) to study factors associated with the switch between vegetative and reproductive growth. Fertilization had a greater effect on seed yield and yield components than irrigation. Y1 had the strongest positive effect on Z, whereas Y5 had a negative effect on Z. Irrigation and fertilization affected Z, Y1, and Y5. Fertilizer concentrations were positively correlated with Z, Y1, and Y5, whereas irrigation levels were negatively correlated. The ridge regression linear model results suggested N application rate and irrigation had antagonistic effects on Y1 (X3 = 867.6-4.23×X2; R2 = 0.988, F = Infinity, P<0.0001). We conclude that the optimal amount of N fertilizer and irrigation was 156 kg ha-1 + 115 mm for seed yield, 120 kg ha-1 + 146 mm for spikelets/fertile tillers, and 108 kg ha-1 + 119 mm for seed numbers/spikelets. These results will improve yield and reduce agricultural inputs for P. smithii in semiarid and arid regions, thereby reducing fertilizer pollution and conserving water.
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