Growth, physiology and yield of durum wheat (Triticum durum) treated with sewage sludge under water stress conditions
Keywords:Durum wheat Triticum durum, sewage sludge, chlorophyll a, yield, biomass, water stress
In arid and semi-arid areas, low soil fertility and water deficit considerably limit crop production. The use of sewage sludge as an organic amendment could contribute to the improvement of soil fertility and hence the agronomic production. The study aims to highlight the behaviour of durum wheat to the application of sewage sludge associated with water stress. The assessment focused on morphophysiological parameters of the wheat plant and yield. Under greenhouse conditions, the variety Mohamed Ben Bachir was treated by four water stress levels (100 %, 80 %, 50 % and 30 %). Each stress level comprised five fertilizer treatments: 20, 50 and 100 t/ha of dry sludge, 35 kg/ha of urea, and a control with no fertilization. Results revealed a significant loss in water content and chlorophyll a in leaves. Water stress negatively affected the development of wheat plants by reducing significantly seed yield, leaf area and biomass produced. Plant’s responses to water stress manifested by an accumulation of proline and a decrease in total phosphorus. However, the increasing doses of sewage sludge limited the effect of water stress. Our findings showed an increase in the amount of chlorophyll pigments, leaf area, total phosphorus, biomass and yield. In addition, excessive accumulation of proline (1.11 ± 1.03 µg/g DM) was recorded as a result of the high concentration of sludge (100 t/ha DM). The application of sewage sludge is beneficial for the wheat crop, but the high accumulation of proline in plants treated with high dose of sludge suggests to properly consider this fact. The application of sludge should be used with caution in soils where water is limited. Because the combined effect of these two factors could result in a fatal osmotic stress to crop development.
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