SALINE WATER APPLICATION AT VARIOUS GROWTH STAGES OF WHEAT: EFFECT ON GROWTH, YIELD AND YIELD COMPONENTS
Keywords:growth stages, growth and yield parameters, saline irrigation water, wheat
Fresh water scarcity compels farmers to utilize saline water for the cultivation of crops in arid and semi-arid parts of the world. The use of saline water, however, requires efficient and comprehensive irrigation management to protect sustainable crop production and the environment. Therefore, a pot experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of saline irrigation water on the growth and yield of wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv. Sarsabz) that has been irrigated at various growth stages. Tap water (EC 0.6 dS m-1) and synthetic saline waters having different EC (2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0 dS m-1) levels were prepared by dissolving NaCl and CaCl2 salts (20:1 w/w) in distilled water. These waters were applied at early (emergence and tillering), later (booting and grain formation) and all (emergence, tillering, booting and grain formation) growth stages of wheat crop. The results showed that saline water decreased growth, yield and yield components of wheat crop. There was a constant decrease in growth and yield parameters with an increase in EC of the irrigation water. The saline water having EC 5.0 dS m-1 caused maximum reduction (~50%) in straw and grain yields. A variable effect of saline water at different growth stages was observed. The plants irrigated with saline waters at early and/or all growth stages were found to have inferior growth and yield parameters relative to the plants irrigated at later growth stage. Our findings indicate the possibility of using saline water at the later stage of wheat crop growth with a corresponding minimum risk of crop yield losses.
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