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Agronomy 2018, 8(9), 189; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8090189

Synergistic Effect of Sulfur and Nitrogen in the Organic and Mineral Fertilization of Durum Wheat: Grain Yield and Quality Traits in the Mediterranean Environment

Department of Agriculture and Forestry Science (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, via San Camillo de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
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Received: 20 July 2018 / Revised: 12 September 2018 / Accepted: 12 September 2018 / Published: 14 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fertilizer Application on Crop Yield)
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Abstract

In recent years, awareness on sustainable land use has increased. Optimizing the practice of nitrogen fertilization has become crucially imperative in cropping management as a result of this current trend. The effort to improve the availability of organic nitrogen has incurred a bottleneck while seeking to achieve a high yield and quality performance for organic winter cereals. Field experiments were conducted, under rainfed Mediterranean conditions, over a period of two subsequent growing seasons. The objective was to investigate the effect of soil and foliar S application on the performance of three durum wheat cultivars fertilized with either organic or inorganic N. The hypothesis to be verified was if different S fertilization strategies could improve grain yield and quality when coupled with mineral or organic N fertilizer. There were three levels of treatment with mineral N fertilizer (120, 160 and 200 kg ha−1), two levels of organic N fertilizer (160 and 200 kg ha−1), two levels of S fertilizer applied to the soil (0 and 70 kg ha−1), and two levels of foliar S application at flag leaf stage (0 and 5 kg ha−1). Cultivars were Dylan, Iride and Saragolla. Analyzed traits were grain yield, yield components and quality features of grain. Overall, at the same N rate, grain yield and quality were markedly higher for mineral than organic N source. Cultivar × Year × N treatment interactions significantly affected grain yield and quality indices. Iride showed a high yield stability throughout the mineral N rates in the most favorable year (2011) and, in the same year, was the top performing cultivar in organic N treatments. Dylan was the top performing cultivar for protein content, while Saragolla for the SDS sedimentation test. Soil S fertilization had no effect on grain quality, whereas it significantly increased grain yield (+ 300 kg ha−1) when coupled with organic rather than a mineral N source. However, foliar S application at flag leaf stage did not affect grain yield, but it significantly enhanced quality indices such as test weight (81 vs. 79.9 kg hL−1), protein content (13.7% vs. 12.9 %) and SDS value (72.5 vs. 70.5 mm). A rate of 160 kg ha−1 of N (both mineral and organic) determined the optimal response for both grain yield and quality. Finally, soil and foliar application of S may help to contain the large yield and quality gap that still exists between mineral and organic fertilization of durum wheat. View Full-Text
Keywords: durum wheat; mineral N; organic N; S fertilization; grain quality; grain yield durum wheat; mineral N; organic N; S fertilization; grain quality; grain yield
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Rossini, F.; Provenzano, M.E.; Sestili, F.; Ruggeri, R. Synergistic Effect of Sulfur and Nitrogen in the Organic and Mineral Fertilization of Durum Wheat: Grain Yield and Quality Traits in the Mediterranean Environment. Agronomy 2018, 8, 189.

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