Feasibility of summer corn (Zea mays L.) production in drought affected areas of northern China using water-saving superabsorbent polymer

https://doi.org/10.17221/101/2011-PSECitation:Robiul Islam M., Zeng Z., Mao J., Egrinya Eneji A., Xue X., Hu Y. (2011): Feasibility of summer corn (Zea mays L.) production in drought affected areas of northern China using water-saving superabsorbent polymer. Plant Soil Environ., 57: 279-285.
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In arid and semiarid regions of northern China, there is an increasing interest in using water-saving superabsorbent polymer (SAP) for field crop production. Experiments were conducted during 2009 and 2010 to study the growth and yield characteristics of summer corn (Zea mays L.) under different (control, 0; low, 10; medium, 20; high, 30 and very high, 40 kg/ha) rates of SAP in a drought-affected field of northern China. Corn yield increased slightly following SAP application at low and medium rate, but significantly at high and very high rates by 22.4 and 27.8%. At the same time, plant height, stem diameter, leaf area, biomass accumulation, harvest index and relative water content as well as protein, sugar and starch contents in the grain increased significantly following SAP treatments. The optimum application of superabsorbent polymer for corn cultivation in the study area would be 30 kg/ha as it best increased the grain yield and quality and maintained higher levels of soil nutrients. Lower rates (10 and
20 kg/ha) or higher (≥ 40 kg/ha) rates would neither be sufficient nor economical. We suggest that the application of SAP at 30 kg/ha could be an efficient and economic soil management practice for summer corn production in the drought affected regions of northern China or other areas with similar ecologies.
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