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Research Project: Strategies to Predict and Mitigate the Impacts of Climate Variability on Soil, Plant, Animal, and Environmental Interactions

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Reduction of plant water consumption through anti-transpirants foliar application in tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum L.)

item ABDALLAH, AHMED - Damanhour University
item Burkey, Kent
item MASHAHEET, AL-SAYED - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: Scientia Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/2/2018
Publication Date: 3/20/2018
Citation: Abdallah, A., Burkey, K.O., Mashaheet, A. 2018. Reduction of plant water consumption through anti-transpirants foliar application in tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Scientia Horticulturae. 235:373-281.

Interpretive Summary: Rainfall patterns have become more variable in recent years as a result of climate change, with severe and unpredictable drought and flooding that impact agricultural production. Furthermore, water is becoming a limited resource in many agricultural areas worldwide. Technologies that reduce water use while maintaining yield and quality will be crucial for retaining soil moisture during the growing season and minimizing use of water for irrigation. In this study, a team of researchers from Egypt, Italy, and USDA-ARS collaborated to test the ability of anti-transpirant chemicals to reduce water use by tomato plants. Field trials conducted in Egypt compared three different classes of chemicals, each class targeting a different physical or metabolic mechanism to reduce leaf transpiration and thus potentially reducing plant water use. All three chemicals reduced water use by tomato. The metabolic inhibitor fulvic acid showed the maximum reduction in water use by the plants (28%) with the minimum reduction in yield (2.3%). None of the anti-transpirant chemicals affected fruit quality. The results suggest that anti-transpirant chemicals are a viable approach to reduce water usage by crops.

Technical Abstract: Optimizing water use efficiency (WUE) is a crucial goal. However, water savings must not be made at the expense of yield and fruit quality in order to secure economical sustainability for producers. The impact of different anti-transpirants (ATS) on WUE, water consumption (WC), net carbon assimilation rate (P-net), yield and fruit quality of tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum L.), were studied to select the most suitable ATS to produce satisfactory yield with less water. Three types of ATS were foliar applied at first fruit set stage: kaolin (KA) 3% and 5% as a reflective material, Linus Seed Oil tri-ethanolamine (ELO) 1% and 2% as a film forming material and Fulvic acid (FA) 0.0015 % and 0.002% as a metabolic inhibitor. The results showed that ATS application increased the relative water content especially in case of FA. However, CO2 assimilation rate reduced, but, the minimum reduction was to be under FA application. While, KA application reduced canopy temperature (Ct), FA and ELO increased it insignificantly. ATS significantly reduced tomato WC (irrigation water reduction ranged between 21% up to 28% of that applied to control plants), without significant yield reduction or effects on fruit quality parameters. The obtained results indicated that FA 0.002% gave the maximum reduction in plant WC (28%), and the minimum reduction of net assimilation rate of CO2 and yield (2.3% yield reduction), and consequently WUE was increased by about 33%. Thus, ATS materials can be used to increase both crop and WUE under water limited conditions, especially in the location where water has a price.