Background: The increasing global population poses a significant challenge, resulting in a scarcity of food resources on a global scale. Addressing this issue necessitates advancements in agricultural practices, particularly in drought-prone areas. Super absorbent polymers (SAPs) are crucial in improving crop production's water and nutrient utilization efficiency, making them highly relevant for drought-affected areas. Thus, this research aimed to assess the impact of SAPs, combined with manure and fertilizers, on the growth of maize (Zea mays) cv. Ts-1004.
Material and Methods: The experiment consisted of nine treatment groups, namely, T1 (Nitrogen, N), T2 (Potassium, K), T3 (Phosphorus, P), T4 (NPK), T5 (Compost), T6 (SAPs), T7 (NPK + Compost), T8 (NPK + SAPs), and T9 (Control). These treatments were evaluated under two water level conditions: well-watered (W1) and water-stressed (W2) in a greenhouse environment. The plants were subjected to water stress by maintaining soil moisture content at 20 – 25% during the knee height and flowering stages for 8 days.
Results: The results revealed that significantly (P < 0.05) higher values in ear girth, ear length, number of seeds per ear, and ear weight were observed in the T8 treatment compared to other treatments. Additionally, the T8 treatment exhibited the highest yield under well-watered and water-stressed conditions (3,274.4 kg/ha). The application of SAPs improved soil moisture content, leading to enhanced water use efficiency (24.53 kg/ha/mm) and harvest index. Moreover, SAPs positively influenced the concentration percentage of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg in roots, stems, leaves, and seeds, with T8 showing the highest values under water stress conditions.
Conclusion: These findings highlighted the effectiveness of SAPs in enhancing crop growth and productivity, particularly under water stress conditions. This approach will help farmers reduce water stress on crops.
KeywordsWUE, NUE, Harvest index, Water deficit condition, NPK, Compost, SAPs
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