Cassava (Manihot esculenta
Crantz) experiences intermittent water deficit and suffers from potassium (K) deficiency that seriously constrains its yield in the tropics. Currently, the interaction effect between deficit irrigation and K fertigation on growth and yield of cassava is unknown, especially during the early growth phase. Therefore, pot experiments were conducted under controlled greenhouse conditions using cassava cuttings. Treatments initiated at 30 days after planting included three irrigation doses (30%, 60%, 100% pot capacity) and five K (0.01, 1, 4, 16, and 32 mM) concentrations. The plants were harvested 90 days after planting. Decreasing irrigation dose to 30% together with 16 mM K lowered the leaf water potential by 69%, leaf osmotic potential by 41%, photosynthesis by 35%, stomatal conductance by 41%, water usage by 50%, leaf area by 17%, and whole-plant dry mass by 41%, compared with full-irrigated plants. Lowering the K concentration below 16 mM reduced the values further. Notably, growth and yield were decreased the least compared with optimal, when irrigation dose was decreased to 60% together with 16 mM K. The results demonstrate that deficit irrigation strategies could be utilized to develop management practices to improve cassava productivity by means of K fertigation under low moisture conditions.
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