Durum Wheat Genotypic Variation of Yield and Nitrogen use Efficiency and Its Components Under Different Water and Nitrogen Regimes in the Mediterranean Region
Farmers in dry areas of the Mediterranean region are reluctant to apply nitrogen (N) fertilizer to rainfed wheat because of frequent drought. So, it is desirable to select varieties with high nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). The objectives of this study, conducted in 2009/10 and 2010/11 in Syria, were to study the response of genotypes of durum wheat to low and high N applications and to evaluate the contribution of N uptake efficiency and utilization efficiency to NUE under rainfed and supplemental irrigation conditions. Under the rainfed regime, grain yield decreased significantly in year 1 and year 2 when applying N fertilizer at a high rate. The early maturing genotypes gave the highest average yields under rainfed and irrigated regimes. High N fertilizer rate decreased significantly NUE from 36.1 to 24.3 in year 1 and 37.0 to 5.8 in year 2. Under irrigation, NUE fell from 84.6 to 67.1 in year 1 and from 117.7 to 33.3 in year 2. The contribution of N uptake efficiency and utilization efficiency to NUE varied from one year to another. In year 1, the contribution of N utilization efficiency was more important at all nitrogen levels; while the opposite was observed in year 2 when more N was applied. The fractions of the genotype sum of squares, respectively, for N uptake efficiency and utilization efficiency were in average 0.15 and 0.78 in year 1 and 0.75 and 0.25 in year 2. From this study we conclude that high N levels in the soil exacerbate the effect of water stress on productivity and NUE of wheat. Early maturing new genotypes tend to be better adapted and to use nitrogen more efficiently under limited water conditions. N utilization efficiency contributes more to NUE under high N availability than N uptake efficiency and vice-versa.