|CAVALCANTE, EDUARDO - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)|
|LACERDA, CLAUDIVAN - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)|
|MESQUITA, ROSILENE - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)|
|MELO, ALBERTO - Paraiba State University|
|TEIXEIRA, ADUNAIS - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)|
|LIMA, SILVIO - Secretary Of Economic Development And Work Of Ceara|
|SALES, JONNATHAN - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)|
|SILVA, JOHNY - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)|
|GHEYI, HANS - Federal University Of Campina Grande|
Submitted to: Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/5/2022
Publication Date: 4/11/2022
Citation: Cavalcante, E.S., Lacerda, C.F., Mesquita, R.O., Melo, A.S.D., Ferreira, J.F.S., Teixeira, A.D.S., Lima, S.C.R.V., Sales, J.R.D.S., Silva, J.D.S., Gheyi, H.R. 2022. Supplemental irrigation with brackish water improves carbon assimilation and water use efficiency in maize under tropical dryland conditions. Agriculture. 12(4). Article 544. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040544.
Interpretive Summary: Dry spells can lead to a significant reduction in crop yield or to total loss of rainfed crops. Supplemental irrigation with brackish water during dry spells can potentially help maintain crop productivity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of brackish water for supplemental irrigation of maize under tropical dryland conditions. Net carbon assimilation rates, indices for water use efficiency, and indicators of salt and water stress were determined under different water availability and irrigation scenarios. Dry spells reduced plant photosynthetic capacity and the yield of ears, especially in dry and severely dry scenarios. Supplemental irrigation with brackish water reduced plant water stress, avoided excessive accumulations of salts in the soil and sodium in the leaves, and improved leaf gas exchange and CO2 assimilation rates. Thus, supplementation with brackish water improved all the plant and soil parameters that are necessary to maintain food productivity in tropical drylands, especially in dry and severely dry years. The use of low-salinity brackish water represents an important production strategy that can be applied in tropical semi-arid regions afflicted by dry spells.
Technical Abstract: Dry spells in rainfed agriculture lead to a significant reduction in crop yield or to total loss. Supplemental irrigation (SI) with brackish water can reduce the negative impacts of dry spells on net CO2 assimilation in rainfed farming in semi-arid tropical regions and maintain crop productivity. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the net carbon assimilation rates, indexes for water use efficiency, and indicators of salt and water stress in maize plants under different water scenarios, with and without supplemental irrigation with brackish water. The experiment followed a randomized block design in a split-plot design with four replications. The main plots simulated four water scenarios found in the Brazilian semi-arid region (Rainy, Normal, Drought, and Severe Drought), while the subplots were with or without supplemental irrigation using brackish water with an electrical conductivity of 4.5 dS m-1. The dry spells reduced the photosynthetic capacity of maize, especially under the Drought (70% reduction) and Severe Drought scenarios (79% reduction), due to stomatal and nonstomatal effects. Supplemental irrigation with brackish water reduced plant water stress, averted the excessive accumulation of salts in the soil and sodium in the leaves, and improved CO2 assimilation rates. The supplemental irrigation with brackish water also promoted an increase in the physical water productivity, reaching values 1.34, 1.91, and 3.03 times higher than treatment without SI for Normal, Drought, and Severe Drought scenarios, respectively. Thus, the use of brackish water represents an important strategy that can be employed in biosaline agriculture for tropical semi-arid regions, which are increasingly impacted by water shortage. Future studies are required to evaluate this strategy in other important crop systems under nonsimulated conditions, as well as the long-term effects of salts on different soil types in this region.