Document Type: Research Paper
Irrigation Department, Shiraz University, Shiraz, I.R of Iran.
A split-split-plot design with three replications in two years of 2009 and 2010
was conducted to investigate the effect of different levels of irrigation water (main
plot), salinity of irrigation water (sub-plot) and nitrogen fertilizer rate (sub-subplot)
on maize growth rate and gas exchange. Irrigation treatments were I1 (1.0
crop evapotranspiration (ETc)+0.25ETc as leaching), I2 (0.75I1) and I3 (0.5I1)
applied at 7-day intervals. The salinity treatments of irrigation were 0.6 (fresh
water), 2.0 and 4.0 dS m-1. There were also three nitrogen (N) treatments including
0, 150 and 300 kg N ha-1. Results showed that vegetative growth stage of maize in
salinity stress lasted 5% more than that in water stress. The most sensitive trait
under water, salinity and nitrogen stress was grain yield (GY). The optimum
treatment for maize production is full fresh water application by 150 kg N ha-1.
Results also showed that crop growth rate (CGR) was statistically higher in I1 and
I2 as 58 and 34% relative to I3 treatment, respectively. Furthermore, CGR was
statistically lower in S2 and S3 as 10 and 18% relative to S1, respectively. Besides,
N application significantly increased CGR by an average of 15% as compared with
no N rate. The net assimilation rate (NAR) reached its maximum value in I2, S2 and
N2 relative to other treatments indicating that NAR did not necessarily occurred at
maximum LAI conditions. In general, maize had statistically greater NAR in
pollination and filling stages relative to other growth stages. Results of gas
exchange for maize as a sensitive crop to water deficit, showed that photosynthesis
rate (An) and stomatal conductance (gs) were statistically decreased in water deficit
by an average of 30 and 43% as compared to full irrigation treatment, respectively.
However, reduction in An and gs in salinity conditions was the same as 13%
compared to no salinity treatment. Transpiration rate (T) was statistically lower
under water and salinity stress by an average of 75 and 26% as compared to no
water and salinity stress, respectively. The ratio of An/gs in I2 and I3 was statistically higher as 23% than that obtained in I1 treatment indicating that
maximum amount of intrinsic water use efficiency could be achieved by water
saving strategies. This result confirmed by transpiration efficiency (An/T) which
was statistically higher as 40 and 14% in I3 and S3 relative to full and fresh water
irrigation treatment, respectively. In general, there was a decreasing trend in An
and gs toward the end of growing season, mainly due to leaves ageing. Similar
pattern also occurred in measurements during a day from morning to afternoon.
Furthermore, An and gs decreased as vapor pressure deficit (VPD) increased. The
relationships between An and gs vs VPD in different growth stages implied that the
plant ability to regulate An and gs in response to VPD at leaf level declined in the
last growth stages. This indicated that the water saving strategies during last
growth stage for maize is more desirable.
Keywords: Gas exchange; Growth analysis; Maize; Water; Salinity and nitrogen stress.