Grain quality, nutrient use efficiency, and bioeconomics of maize under different sowing methods and NPK levels

Abdul Rehman1*, M. Farrukh Saleem2, Muhammad Ehsan Safdar1, Safdar Hussain3, and Naeem Akhtar1

Finding more efficient ways to fertilize crops will reduce N losses and increase nutrient uptake. A field experiment was conducted at the Agronomic Research Farm, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan, during 2006 and repeated in 2007. The crop was planted in three different geometrical arrangements, viz. flat sowing (rows spaced 75 cm), ridge sowing (ridges spaced 75 cm), and strip planting (double row strips spaced 120 cm with 30 cm between rows in a strip); NPK was applied in four different combinations (0-0-0 control, 200-100-100 low dose,250-125-125 medium dose, and 300-150-150 high dose kg ha-1). Both fertilizer use efficiency (FUE) and N use efficiency (NUE) were significantly lower with the high fertilizer dose (300-150-150 kg NPK ha-1) than with the low or medium doses. The highest nitrogen uptake efficiency was with the medium fertilizer dose and proved to be a good indicator of grain yield. Among planting methods, ridge plantation resulted in higher FUE, NUE, and N uptake efficiency. The highest grain yield, net income, and benefit cost ratio were recorded when a crop was planted on ridges with the medium fertilizer dose. Sowing methods did not significantly affect grain quality parameters. Seed oil, protein, and starch contents were the lowest in the control. Thereafter, seed oil contents continued to decrease, while seed protein and seed starch increased with each NPK fertilizer increment.

Keywords: Nutrient, NPK, efficiency, economics, planting methods, maize.
1University College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha, Lahore- Khushab Bypass Road, Sargodha, Pakistan. *Corresponding author (drabdulrehman18@yahoo.com).
2University of Agriculture, Jail Road, Faisalabad, Pakistan.
3College of Agriculture, Sub Campus of University of Agriculture, Sakhi Sarwar Road, Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan. PO Box N° 79.