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Agronomy 2018, 8(9), 189;

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
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
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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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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