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Open AccessArticle

Improving Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) Productivity through Adaptive Management of Water and Nitrogen

Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X21, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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Water 2020, 12(2), 422; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020422
Received: 11 December 2019 / Revised: 20 January 2020 / Accepted: 25 January 2020 / Published: 5 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insights on the Water–Energy–Food Nexus)
Management of nitrogen and water plays a significant role in increasing crop productivity. A large amount of nitrogen (N) may be lost through leaching if these resources are not well managed. Wetting front detectors (WFDs) and Chameleon soil water sensors were used to adapt water and nitrogen applications with the goal of increasing millet yields, as well as nitrogen and water use efficiency. The trials were laid out as a randomized complete block design with factorial combinations of water and N, and included the following treatments: irrigation to field capacity (fortnightly and weekly), adaptive-water application based on sensor response or rainfed, and N treatments included either fixed nitrogen levels (0, 45, 90 kg N ha−1) or an adaptive-N rate, depending on N content of the soil solution extracted from WFDs. Adaptive management aims to steer water and nitrogen applications towards optimum crop requirements. Treatments that received both high water and nitrogen outperformed other treatments by 11% to 68% in terms of biomass production and 16% to 54% in grain yield, while water use efficiency and irrigation use efficiency values were also higher, ranging from 1.58 to 7.94 kg m−3 and 1.43 to 8.30 kg m−3. Results suggest that integrated adaptive water and nitrogen management should be considered to reduce high N losses and cost of crop production, without a meaningful yield penalty, relative to high production input management. View Full-Text
Keywords: water use efficiency; adaptive management; chameleon sensors; wetting front detectors water use efficiency; adaptive management; chameleon sensors; wetting front detectors
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Ausiku, A.P.; Annandale, J.G.; Steyn, J.M.; Sanewe, A.J. Improving Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) Productivity through Adaptive Management of Water and Nitrogen. Water 2020, 12, 422.

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