Augmented growth and change in mineral composition of wheat through calcium silicate fertilization under salt-affected and normal field conditions.

Anser Ali1*, Shahzad M.S. Basra2, Safdar Hussain1, and Javaid Iqbal1

Salinity stress is a major and ever-present threat to crop production, especially where irrigation is necessary for agriculture. Two independent field experiments were carried out in natural non-saline (site-I; electrical conductivity [EC] < 4 dS m-1) and saline (site-II; EC = 10-13.8 dS m-1) fields to test the efficacy of different doses of Si (0, 75, and 150 mg kg-1) on two wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars with different salt susceptibility, i.e., ‘Auqab-2000’ (salt-sensitive) and ‘SARC-5’ (salt-tolerant). The crop was harvested at maturity and various ionic and yield parameters were recorded. The concomitant increase in the number of tillers, number of grains per spike, grain yield, and biological yield were observed given that Si was applied under both optimal and salt-affected field conditions. It was concluded that ‘SARC-5’ is better than ‘Auqab-2000’ under salt stress. When Si was applied, similar effects were observed in both cultivars regardless of their salt sensitivity and whether the field was saline or non-saline, and it enhanced wheat growth by improving K+:Na+, which was adversely influenced by salt stress.

Keywords: Triticum aestivum, salt stress, silicon, wheat growth, K+:Na+, water potential, stomatal conductance.
1 University of Agriculture, Sub-Campus D.G. Khan, Faisalabad, Pakistan-38040. *Corresponding author (uafanser@yahoo.com).
2University of Agriculture, Department of Crop Physiology, Faisalabad, Pakistan-38040.