Effects of fertilizer on root growth and water use of barley in northern Syria
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P. J. Gregory, K. D. Shepherd, P. J. Cooper. (27/3/2009). Effects of fertilizer on root growth and water use of barley in northern Syria. Journal of Agricultural Science, 103 (2), pp. 429-438.
Barley (cv. Beecher) was grown at two sites (Jindiress and Breda) in northern Syria, chosen for their contrasting edaphic and climatic conditions. At both sites, three fertilizer treatments were applied zero (Z), 60 kg P2O5/ha (P), and 60 kg P2O5/ha with 60 kg N/ha (NP) and measurements made of shoot and root growth, and water use. The growth of crops not given fertilizer was similar at both sites and early growth was increased by the application of fertilizers. However, at maturity, yield was increased at Jindiress by giving N and P together, but not by P alone, while at Breda P alone increased yields but additional N produced no additional yield. There were marked effects of fertilizer on crop development at Jindiress; anthesis and maturity were about 14 days earlier in the NP treatment than in the Z treatment. Root growth was also affected by fertilizer applications and there were small but significant differences in growth between the sites. The proportion of root weight: total plant weight was greater than commonly observed in temperate cereals and there were substantial differences between the sites in the pattern of root distribution within the soil profile. The total amount of water used by the crops differed between the sites but was largely unaffected by fertilizer treatment at each site. Evapotranspiration during the winter when the soil was recharged with water was about 50% of the seasonal total. At Jindiress, the pattern of water extraction from the profile and the root distribution were similar before flowering but at Breda, there was no correspondence. Rates of water inflow varied with both site and time. Crop characteristics that may be associated with increased yields are discussed. Deeper, more extensive rooting is unlikely to be useful in such regions but rapid early growth of both shoots and roots may allow water to be used more efficiently.
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