Tomato yield, physiological response, water and nitrogen use efficiency under deficit and partial root zone drying irrigation in an arid region
Water scarcity in arid regions is a serious problem, which calls for innovative irrigation water management. Partial root zone drying (PRD) technique can considerably reduce irrigation amount for crops. To investigate this further, tomato plants were imposed to either surface drip (SUR) with full irrigation (FI) at 100% of evaporative demands and regulate deficit irrigation (RDI) at 50% water of FI or subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) with fixed PRD at 75 (PRD75) and 50% (PRD50) of the FI. Surface evaporation under SUR with FI constitutes a large fraction of water losses from cropped fields while SDI with PRD75 preserved more water for plant uptake. Plants grown under water saving treatments showed lower stomatal conductance and transpiration rates compared to FI plants. Tomato yield under SDI with PRD75 was comparable to yield under SUR with FI for both tested seasons along with 25% water saving and 30% increase in water use efficiency (WUE). Otherwise, PRD50 reduced yield by 18-20%, but a substantial amount of irrigation water was saved along a 60 and 65% higher WUE compared to FI treatment. Fruit dry weight and harvest index (HI) were significantly higher with PRD75 compared to the other treatments. Seasonal N uptake and in turn N recovery was higher in PRD75 than any other treatment associated with improving N use efficiency.
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