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Agricultural Water Management 96 (2009) 12851292

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Soil moisture tension and phosphate fertilization on yield components of A-7573 sweet corn (Zea mays L.) hybrid, in Campeche, Mexico
Benigno Rivera-Hernandez a, Eugenio Carrillo-Avila b, Jose Jesus Obrador-Olan a,*, a Jose Francisco Juarez-Lopez , Lorenzo A. Aceves-Navarro a, Eustolia Garca-Lopez a
a b

rdenas, Tabasco, Mexico rico Carlos A. Molina s/n. 86500. H. Ca Colegio de Postgraduados: Campus Tabasco, Perife Colegio de Postgraduados: Campus Campeche, Calle Nicaragua No. 91, Tercer piso, 24050, Campeche, Campeche, Mexico



Article history: Received 18 July 2008 Accepted 29 March 2009 Available online 17 May 2009 Keywords: Dose Soil moisture tension Irrigation Vertisols Growth and development

The effect of moisture tension and doses of phosphate fertilization on yield components of sweet corn A7573 (Zea mays L.) hybrid, in a Calcium Vertisol were evaluated. Four levels of soil moisture tension, ranging from 5 to 80 kPa, and three levels of phosphate fertilization: 60, 80, and 100 kg ha1 were studied. In order to evaluate the effect of the experimental treatments, plant growth, development, and yield were monitored. Treatments were distributed using the randomized complete block design (RCB) for divided plots of experimental units. ANOVA analysis indicated that the effects on more humid treatments (5 and 30 kPa) were statistically equivalent, however were different from the effect of 55 kPa treatment, which in turn was statistically different from the effect of the driest treatment (p 0.01). On the other hand, 80 and 100 kg ha1 phosphate doses were statistically equal among them, but different from the lowest dose in almost all cases (p 0.01), which suggests that 80 kg ha1 P2O5 application is sufcient to satisfy the nutritional requirements of the A-7573 hybrid. Both stress caused by the lack of water and the one due to deciency of phosphorus affect all variables under study, however none of them showed interaction between irrigation and fertilization treatments. Irrigation of sweet corn crop is advisable when soil moisture tension grows to 30 kPa at 030 cm depth and to apply a phosphate fertilization dose of 80 kg ha1 is also recommended; using this management, sweet corn expected average length and fresh weight are 30.8 cm and 298 g, respectively, and their average yield is around 16.5 t ha1. In accordance with regression equations obtained, the maximum values in the evaluated response variables are obtained for a rank from 14.4 to 22.2 kPa in soil moisture tension. The greater efciency in the use of irrigation water for sweet corn was of 36 kg ha1 for every millimetre laminate of watering applied, found in the 30 kPa treatment of soil moisture tension. 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Mexico has the highest corn consumption in terms of population, with 127 kg year1 person1 (Nadal and Wise, 2005). Even though it is mainly used as an industrialized grain, another form for its utilization is in the fresh state known as elote (sweet corn). The State of Campeche is located in the southeast of Mexico, on the region known as the Yucatan peninsula, where average rainfall is 1200 mm, mainly occurring only in 4 months, from June to September (INEGI, 2007). Such rainfall distribution induces a high decit of soil moisture which constrains agriculture activities, and thus farmers use irrigation for crops such as vegetables and sweet corn. In spite of the importance of the

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +52 01 9373722386; fax: +52 01 9373722297. E-mail address: (J.J. Obrador-Olan). 0378-3774/$ see front matter 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.agwat.2009.03.020

efcient use of water for farmers, there are only a few studies that point out its optimal use. Similarly, not many studies had been made to recommend rational doses of phosphoric fertilization. Additionally to the water problems, soils of the region have small phosphorus contents and great calcium contents: calcareous soils inhibit the efciency of phosphorus applied in fertilizers, due to the fast reaction of xation between applied phosphorus and the high calcium contents in the soil (Sharpley, 2000; Hedley and McLaughlin, 2005). Potential yields of 8 t ha1 of dry grain corn had been estimated for the corn production region of the state, which generally are not common due to the problems described before (Norman et al., 1995; Turrent et al., 2004). Corn transpiration rate decreases with increasing soil moisture tension, reducing by that means plant biomass accumulation and grain yield (Wolfe et al., 1988). Traore et al. (2000) and Setter et al. (2001) indicate that hydric stress causes a diminution of maize grain yield, which depends on the state of development of the crop


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Table 1 Results of irrigation water chemical analysis. pH CE (dS m1) 7.0 1.267 CO3 (cmol (+) l1) 0.80 5.95 9.94 4.55 0.08 5.33 10.73 1.97 HCO3 Cl SO4 K Na Ca Mg B (mg l1) 4.99

Table 2 Results of soil chemical analysis of the experimental plot. pH (H2O) Rel. 1:2 6.5 CE (dS m1) 0.09 MO (%) 4.07 0.22 N P (mg kg1) 0.57 K (cmol (+) kg1) 0.92 50.4 7.57 0.18 38 Ca Mg Na CIC

and the duration of the hydric stress. Eck (1986) reports that water stress for periods of 2 and 4 weeks during the stage of vegetative development reduces grain yield in 23% and 46%, respectively. Furthermore, if such periods occur during the grain lling phase, yield reduction reaches 17% and 33%, respectively. Oktem et al. (2003) and Payero et al. (2006) report a linear positive relation between the water consumption and the grain yield in Merit hybrid maize. Several studies (Lu et al., 2000; Kang et al., 2004; Baboo, 2006; Wang et al., 2007) had proven the advantages of considering moisture tension on soil humidity management, estimating it with tensiometers. The tension at which soil moisture must be maintained for a specic crop could be transferred to other locations where soils have different physical properties and climate conditions also differ (Pier and Doerge, 1995). Nevertheless, it is important to consider that irrigation needs in corn plants vary both temporally and spatially based on climate, management, growth phase and seed variety (Doorenbos and Kassam, 1980). Phosphorus (P) is an essential element which is found naturally in low concentrations in non-disturbed soils (Brady and Weil, 2002). When soil is transformed into agricultural management, it is necessary to apply P through edaphic fertilization. However, in calcareous soils like those of the Yucatan peninsula, P interacts with Ca forming low solubility calcium phosphates, reducing its availability for crops (Af et al., 1993; Hedley and McLaughlin, 2005; Wang et al., 2005; Mc Beath et al., 2006; Sanchez, 2007). On the other hand, P deciency has negative effects on both yield components and quality of sweet corn, and affects the morphological and physiological characteristics of the roots, reducing their total number, and therefore their capacity for water and nutrient absorption. This also has an inuence on the leaf area index (LAI), decreasing rates of leaf occurrence, expansion and duration (Fletcher et al., 2006, 2008a,b), which reduce biomass accumulation, specially during the rst stages of crop development (Hajabbasi and Schumacher, 1994; Colomb et al., 2000; Pellerin et al., 2000), and which diminishes the nal number of grains per cob (Fletcher et al., 2008a). In the state of Campeche the annual demand for sweet corn is not fully satised by the production, because both yield and quality are mainly low. The principal causes are the use of inadequate irrigation and decient fertilization. Consequently, the objective of this research was to test the effect of different levels of moisture tension in soil and of phosphate fertilization doses on yield components in sweet corn elotero (Zea mays L.), A-7573 hybrid. 2. Materials and methods 2.1. Experimental work setting The experimental work was conducted from April to July of 2007 in the experimental eld of the Colegio de Postgraduados, Campus Campeche, located on kilometre 17.5 of the federal road

Haltunchen-Edzna, Champoton municipality, Campeche state, Mexico. Its geographic coordinates are: 198290 5500 north latitude and 908320 4500 west longitude. Maize sweet corn A-7573 (Z. mays L.) hybrid sowing started on April 13th in a Calcium Vertisol terrain. The crop was irrigated with a ribbon drip irrigation system. Before the crop was established, sampling and chemical analyses of irrigation water and of plot soil in study were done. On this latter case, after the eld preparation for sowing, a compound sample was taken (which integrated 15 sub-samples). 2.2. Soil and water analyses Chemical analyses of the irrigation water and soil samples were done in the Laboratory for Soil, Water and Plant Analysis (LASPA) of the Colegio de Postgraduados, in its Tabasco Campus, in accordance with methods suggested by the Ofcial Mexican Standard (NOM-021-RECNAT, 2000). Results of the analysis of irrigation water are presented in Table 1. Water is classied as C3S1, implying a high salt content and low risk of creating a high Na content in soil (Thorne and Peterson, 1963), even though there is a moderate potential irrigation problem for salt sensitive crops. However, in Campeche, soils have high permeability due to their karstic nature, besides, abundant rainfall during the rainy season washes salt excess, therefore water applied by small ribbons does not seem to constitute, in short term, a real risk for developing a saline soil (Batllori and Febles, 2002). In Table 2 results of the chemical analysis of soil in the experimental terrain are shown. Analytical methods and interpretation were based on the Ofcial Mexican Standard cited before. Most nutrient contents of the soil do not limit corn growth and development (IFA, 1992), except P and Calcium (Ca) because of their deciency and excess, respectively. Based on its pH value, the soil is classied as moderately acid, and thus essential nutrients have no problems of availability. Organic matter (OM) found in the studied soil is located on the high category, which is a good indicator due to the role of OM in the physical, chemical, and biological fertility of the soil (Bot and Benites, 2005). Considering the relationship between organic reserves and nitrogen (N), it is not surprising that the soil shows a high content of this nutrient which makes it to be considered in the upper class. The C/N ratio for this soil is an indicator of a good mineralization rate. In contrast, P-Olsen soil value indicates a low content, which requires high additions of this nutrient to the soil in fertilization doses for optimal plant growth. All the bases evaluated (potassium, calcium, and magnesium) show high supply, which is favourable for the crop. Nevertheless, high Ca contents affect phosphorus availability, because of the afnity of both elements for non-soluble compound formation (Espinosa and Molina, 1999). Cationic exchange capacity (CEC) value was on the high class, indicating that the experimental soil is adequate for agriculture activities, considering the importance of such parameter for nutrient retention. Results of soil chemical

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analysis were used in dening nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) doses, giving a special emphasis to the second nutrient (P). 2.3. Phosphate fertilization levels In order to estimate the phosphate fertilization dose, the equation suggested by Rodrguez (1987) was used: FD CD SS FE (1)

tensiometers whose porous capsule was installed 30 cm deep, immediately under the irrigation ribbon system. Tensiometers were located in the centre of every big plot. Irrigation treatments started on May 5, when corn plants had 30 cm length; previously all experimental units were irrigated homogeneously in order to guarantee seed germination and emergence. In order to establish fertilization treatments, a physical mix of urea, potassium chloride and calcium triple super phosphate was used. Due to the phosphorus reactivity and the dynamics of N, fertilization was divided in two: a rst fertilization was performed at sowing and a second one 20 days afterwards. 2.7. Measured variables To establish the effect of irrigation and fertilization treatments on the growth of sweet corn, several variables were determined: plant height (PH), stem diameter (SD), leaf length (LL), stem dry weight (SDW), leaf dry weight (LDW), and plant dry weight (PDW). To determine the outcome of treatments on quality characteristics of sweet corn cobs, length (SCL), diameter (SCD), fresh weight (SCFW), sweet corn cobs dry weight (SCDW), yield in fresh sweet corn cobs (YFSC), and yield in dry sweet corn cobs (YDSC) variables were also studied. Weight and yield of sweet corn cobs (fresh and dry) include that of bract. Response variables PH, SD, and LL were determined in ve plants selected randomly for each experimental unit, being measured every 3 weeks, starting on April 30th and nishing on July 1st; however the statistical analysis of the experiment was done using only the data taken in the last date of measurement. To dene SDW, LDW, PDW, SCL, SCD, SCFW and SCDW a random veplant sample was taken in each experimental unit, when the corn was 3 months and sweet corn cobs were on a milky-mass stage. Stem, leaves, and sweet corn cobs were dried at 105 8C in an oven until they reached a constant weight in order to evaluate SDW, LDW, PDW and SCDW. For the estimation of YFSC and YDSC the value of SCFW and SCDW was multiplied by the number of sweet corn cobs estimated per hectare in each experimental unit. It is important to mention that treatments with 55 and 80 kPa moisture tensions had 10% and 35% of plants without sweet corn cobs, respectively, and on treatments with 5 and 30 kPa no plants were found without sweet corn cobs. 2.8. Efciency in the use of water An estimation of the efciency in the use of water in every experimental unit was done with the following expression, which is similar to that used by Lu et al. (2000): EUt YFSC Lt (2)

where FD represents the fertilization dose to apply (kg ha1), CD the nutrient demand of the crop (kg ha1), SS the supply of nutrient provided by the soil (kg ha1), and FE the fertilizer efciency in relation with plant absorption (non-dimensional). Since CD depends upon the productive potential of the crop on a given region, for this study it was calculated in 24 kg P2O5, which corresponds to the quantity of this nutrient required to achieve a crop of 12 t ha1 of sweet corn cobs, showing the potential of the A 7573 hybrid (Hernandez et al., 2001) under the environmental conditions of the region studied. According to the phosphorus analysis results, SS exposed very low levels, practically without supply. On the contrary, N and potassium (K) manifested higher supplies compared to the demand of the crop, based on the Ofcial Mexican Standard (Table 2). A 30% fertilization efciency was considered for phosphorus fertilization in the Vertisol soil (Obrador, 1991). As a result, the optimal fertilization dose estimated for phosphorus (P2O5) was 80 kg ha1. 2.4. Factors in study Moisture tension in soil as indicator of the beginning of the irrigation and phosphate fertilization factors were studied. Four levels of soil moisture were studied with 5, 30, 55, and 80 kPa, which were based on previous experiences (Rhoads and Stanley, 1974; Lu et al., 2000; Salaya et al., 2002; Kang et al., 2004; Baboo, 2006; Orozco and Perez, 2006; Wang et al., 2007), trying to explore corn response to humid and fairly dry levels of soil. For phosphate (P2O5) fertilization factor three levels were employed: 60, 80, and 100 kg ha1 (one above and the other below the one being estimated). N and potassium (K2O) maintenance doses applied were 100 kg ha1 each. The combination of the distinct levels of the two factors tested resulted in 12 different treatments. 2.5. Experimental design A divided plot design (DPD) was used, where the levels of the irrigation factor (treatments) were located in big plots in a randomized complete block design (RCB), with three replicates, and phosphorus fertilization factor levels (sub treatments) were allocated inside small plots in a completely randomized design (CRD) (Hinkelmann and Kempthorne, 1994; Martnez, 1996). Big plots, 96 m2 of surface, were formed by eight rows of plants of 20 m long, with 60 cm space between them, and with 30 cm of distance between corn plants. The nal density was 55,500 plants ha1. Since every big plot was sub-divided into three small ones to apply fertilization sub-treatments, the trial was made up of 36 experimental units of 32 m2. 2.6. Treatment application Irrigation applied on big plots was controlled by individual valves connected to each small ribbon at the beginning of the corn rows, with drips every 30 cm. The moment for irrigation application was determined based on water tension in soil, in correspondence with each treatment. It was measured using

where EUt = efciency in the use of total water (t ha1 mm1); Lt = total laminate of water received by the crop (irrigation plus rainfall) (mm). 2.9. Analysis of variance The analysis of variance (ANOVA) of the block divided plots design was undertaken for all response variables. In variables with statistically signicant differences, Tukeys (p 0.01) method for multiple mean comparisons was used, in order to establish differences between treatments. 2.10. Regression analysis Multiple regressions were performed to relate values determined on the response variables with the levels of the factors


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studied. The model proposed by Carrillo et al. (unpublished) was used: y a bP cP 2 ln1 ThedTh (3)

where y = response variable; Th = moisture tension (kPa); P = phosphate fertilization (kg ha1); a, b, c, d = model parameters. Model parameters were determined by square minimums, employing the algorithm proposed by LevenbergMarquardt (Marquardt, 1963), programmed in BASIC. In the regression model 3 the term Th P, corresponding to the interaction between the soil moisture tension at the beginning of the irrigation and fertilization was not included, because in the analysis of variance its effect was not declared signicant, for any of the response variables analyzed. 2.11. Agronomic labours Corn crop agronomic labours were performed according to recommendations of the technological corn production manual for the state of Campeche (INIFAP, 2007). 2.12. Pest control During the development of the experiment the incidence of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda Smith) and cutworm (Agrotis spp.) was observed. A unique application of 0.5 l ha1 of Cipermetrine, at the moment when the populations of both pests reached the economic threshold, controlled them. 3. Results and discussion 3.1. Use of moisture tension in order to dene the moment for irrigation Moisture tension in soil, measured daily with tensiometers, was used to dene the moment for the application of irrigation in all treatments. The behaviour of moisture tension in the soil as a function of the addition of water to the surface by both irrigation and rainfall, from May 26th till June 20th is shown in Fig. 1; irrigation was applied when the gauge of tensiometer indicated the chosen tension for each treatment. For the mentioned time interval, four irrigations were applied per treatment 55 kPa and only one for the driest treatment in block three; sometimes irrigation was added for moisture tension values slightly different

from those pre-established, due to strong variation on their values in only 1 day. For the rest of the blocks, the moisture tension evolution was similar, however the number of irrigations applied to each treatment changed, being higher on those with 5 and 30 kPa. The amount of water added in every irrigation was the necessary to make the gauge of the tensiometer (or the moisture tension) descended to zero, indicating soil saturation; therefore, in the driest treatment (80 kPa), the water laminate applied in every irrigation was generally higher, depending on spatial changes on soil texture, even though total accumulated laminate was the lowest. 3.2. Analysis of variance In Table 3, the values of different levels of signicance obtained in the analysis of variance of the experiment for all response variables tested are presented. For all cases, highly signicant differences were found between irrigation and fertilization treatments (p 0.0001), indicative of the clear effect of different levels of both factors (moisture tension and fertilization) over all response variables. The variation coefcients were fairly low, as a result of the care taken on variable measurements, and on the application of treatments. As found by Perez and Cigales (2001), no signicant interaction was found between irrigation and fertilization treatments in any of the variables tested, even though some authors had reported interactions between moisture tensions during irrigation and fertilization doses (He et al., 2004; Moser et al., 2006; Perez et al., 2004; Orozco and Perez, 2006). On the other hand, with the exception of SCDW and YDSC, in the rest of variables signicant effects (at 5%) were found among irrigation treatments and blocks, which suggest that variation in soil type between blocks affected water absorption by plants. In Table 4 the results of Tukeys (p 0.01) test for multiple mean comparisons are shown. It can be observed that the A-7573 hybrid presents a reduction in all response variables tested as the moisture tension rises, in the same way as when phosphorus doses applied to soil are decreased. For all response variables, the effect of the most humid treatments (5 and 30 kPa) was statistically the same, although their effects were different from the effect of the treatment with 55 kPa, which in turn resulted statistically different compared with the driest one, being this last one where the lowest average values in all variables were observed. In contrast, the highest average values of the variables were observed in the most humid

Fig. 1. Temporal evolution of soil moisture tension as a function of the addition of water to the surface by both irrigation and rainfall on plots receiving 55 and 80 kPa in block three, from May 26th to June 20th of 2007. The moisture tension in the soil was used to dene the moment for irrigation.

ndez et al. / Agricultural Water Management 96 (2009) 12851292 B. Rivera-Herna Table 3 Levels of signicance (of analysis of variance) of the response variables. Sources of variation Variables PH (cm) SD (cm) LL (cm) LDW (g) SDW (g) PDW (g) SCD (cm) SCL (cm) SCFW (g) SCDW (g) YFSC (t ha1) YDSC (t ha1) Irrigation treatments Blocks Irrigation blocks treatments Fertilization treatments Irrigation fertilization treatments VC


<0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001

<0.0001 0.0088 0.0004 0.0174 0.0595 0.0577 0.0006 0.4204 0.0155 0.0017 0.0197 0.0006

<0.0001 0.0286 0.0154 0.0280 <0.0001 <0.0001 0.0313 <0.0001 0.0025 0.3360 0.0120 0.2148

<0.0001 <0.0001 0.0004 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 0.0008 <0.0001 0.0016 <0.0001

0.1636 0.4059 0.3794 0.5081 0.5461 0.9417 0.1989 0.5749 0.8243 0.2541 0.6676 0.5153

1.92 2.08 3.55 6.68 5.44 4.63 1.47 2.63 4.52 1.87 4.90 1.73

VC = variation coefcient, plant height (PH), stem diameter (SD), leaf length (LL), stem dry weight (SDW), leaf dry weight (LDW), plant dry weight (PDW), sweet corn length (SCL), sweet corn diameter (SCD), sweet corn fresh weight (SCFW), sweet corn dry weight (SCDW), yield in fresh sweet corn (YFSC), and yield in dry sweet corn (YDSC). Table 4 Multiple mean comparisons for the response variables (Tukey, p Variables Irrigation treatments (kPa) 5 PH (cm) SD (cm) LL (cm) LDW (g) SDW (g) PDW (g) SCD (cm) SCL (cm) SCFW (g) SCDW (g) YFSC (t ha1) YDSC (t ha1) 221.5a 3.18a 71.51a 63.5a 51.1a 114.5a 5.54a 31.35a 300.6a 70.5a 16.68a 3.91a 30 219.2a 3.15a 69.54a 63.4a 48.7a 111.7a 5.53a 30.63a 293.9a 69.9a 16.31a 3.88a 55 198.8b 2.87b 59.54b 48.5b 34.3b 82.8b 4.59b 26.30b 239.7b 57.8b 11.97b 2.89b 80 183.2c 2.74c 54.70c 38.9c 26.9c 66.1c 4.10c 24.88c 181.9c 48.1c 6.56c 1.73c MSD 6.8 0.11 3.92 6.2 3.8 7.5 0.13 1.29 19.9 2.0 1.09 0.093

0.01). Fertilization treatments (kg P2O5 ha1) 60 196.4b 2.88b 61.05b 46.7b 33.3b 80.0b 4.83b 27.21b 241.5b 58.4b 12.25b 2.95b 80 208.1a 3.01a 64.98a 56.0a 43.3a 99.2a 4.97a 28.47a 257.4a 62.6a 13.05ab 3.15a 100 212.6a 3.05a 65.43a 58.2a 44.1a 102.1a 5.02a 29.20a 263.2a 63.7a 13.35a 3.21a MSD 5.4 0.09 3.13 4.9 3.0 5.99 0.1 1.03 15.9 1.6 0.87 0.074

Means with the same letter in one row are not statistically different (p 0.01); MSD = minimal signicant difference; PH = plant height; SD = stem diameter; LL = leaf length; SDW = stem dry weight; LDW = leaf dry weight; PDW = plant dry weight; SCL = sweet corn length; SCD = sweet corn diameter; SCFW = sweet corn fresh weight; SCDW = sweet corn dry weight; YFSC = yield in fresh sweet corn; YDSC = yield in dry sweet corn.

treatment, even though they were practically the same to those found in treatment with 30 kPa. In PH, SD, LL, LDW, SDW and PDW variables, a reduction of 10.25%, 9.75%, 16.74%, 23.62%, 32.88%, and 27.69%, respectively, between treatment with 55 kPa and the maximum values found in the most humid treatment was observed. A decrease of 17.29%, 13.84%, 23.51%, 38.74%, 47.36%, and 42.27% (in the same variables respectively) on the driest with regard to the most humid treatments was also registered. The most remarkable reduction was found in SDW and PDW variables, indicative of the effect brought by low water availability in soil on the stem biomass formation. PH, SD and LL variables were less affected, because in order to capture more solar radiation, plants give priority to leaf formation and plant growth (Rhoads and Stanley, 1974; Porro and Cassel, 1986; Schmidhalter, 1997; Baboo, 2006). In relation with sweet corn yield components, a reduction on SCL, SCD, SCFW, SCDW, YFSC, YDSC values from 17.15%, 16.11%, 20.26%, 18.01%, 28.24%, and 26.09%, respectively, among treatments with 55 kPa and 5, and a decrease of 25.99%, 20.64%, 39.45%, 31.77%, 60.67%, and 55.75%, respectively, between the driest and the most humid treatments were observed. The most severe reductions were found on yield of both fresh and dry sweet corn and on its fresh average weight as well, whereas the length of sweet corn was less affected by the moisture restriction in soil. On the other hand, the effects of phosphate fertilization with 80 and 100 kg ha1 resulted statistically equal, but different to the lowest dose in all cases, with the only exception of YFSC variable,

where effects of lower doses were statistically the same (Table 4). In PH, SD, LL, LDW, SDW, and PDW variables, a reduction of 7.6%, 5.57%, 6.69%, 19.76%, 24.49%, and 21.65%, respectively, between the 60 and 100 kg P2O5 ha1 doses was presented. In the same way as hydric stress, phosphorus deciency affected in a higher proportion biomass formation in stems, since the SDW and PDW variables presented a greater diminution when the dose of fertilization was reduced. The variables with smaller reduction were PH, SD and LL. Both results suggest that, as much as hydric stress, phosphorus deciency forces the maize plants to reduce the formation of biomass in stems, maintaining the leaf growth almost unaffected, in order to maintain photosynthetic activity. On yield components and on quality of sweet corn (SCD, SCL, SCFW, SCDW, YFSC, and YDSC), a reduction of 3.78%, 6.82%, 8.24%, 8.32%, 8.24%, and 8.09%, respectively, was observed between the lowest and the highest doses (Table 4). Similarly to hydric stress, phosphorus deciency mainly affects sweet corn cob weight and yield, while sweet corn cob diameter diminished only by 3.78%. Fresh sweet corn cob yield values obtained in the present study agreed with those found by Hernandez et al. (2001), with 16 t ha1 in a Vertisol, achieved adding 60 kg P2O5 ha1. 3.3. Regression analysis Table 5 shows the equations obtained. Values for the coefcient of determination r2 models are presented. With the exception of


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Table 5 Regression equations obtained for the response variables. Equation PH = (62.63 + 1.08P 0.0054P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.0143Th) SD = (1.09474 + 0.010753P 0.000054P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.013635Th) LL = (15.2544 + 0.50707P 0.00277P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.0159Th) LDW = (0.74206P 0.003493P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.01941Th) SDW = (35.779 + 1.5029P 0.008221P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.02192Th) PDW = (48.1624 + 2.5619P 0.0137P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.020431Th) SCD = (2.3935 + 0.0118P 0.0000564P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.01645Th) SCL = (11.8759 + 0.08171P 0.000333P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.01535Th) SCFW = (89.2266 + 1.67496P 0.0081622P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.01908Th) SCDW = (18.8139 + 0.42919P 0.002194P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.01752Th) YFSC = (5.41762 + 0.1004P 0.000486P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.02373Th) YDSC = (1.30117 + 0.02276P 0.0001144P2)ln(1 Th)e(0.02258Th) r2 Moisture tension for maximum (kPa) 21.47 22.22 19.74 16.86 15.33 16.20 19.19 20.30 17.10 18.29 14.41 14.92 Phosphorus dose for maximum (kg P2O5 ha1) 100.00 99.56 91.53 106.22 91.41 93.50 104.61 122.69 102.60 97.81 103.29 99.48 Maximum value 267.02 3.79 85.20 81.90 65.68 146.31 6.59 37.82 366.03 85.50 20.60 4.81

0.360 0.329 0.459 0.785 0.818 0.823 0.677 0.379 0.800 0.779 0.946 0.969

Th = moisture tension in soil (kPa); P = phosphorus P2O5 dose (kg ha1); PH = plant height (cm); SD = stem diameter (cm); LL = leaf length (cm); LDW = leaf dry weight (g); SDW = stem dry weight (g); PDW = plant dry weight (g); SCD = sweet corn diameter (cm); SCL = sweet corn length (cm); SCFW = sweet corn fresh weight (g); SCDW = sweet corn dry weight (g); YFSC = yield in fresh sweet corn (t ha1); YDSC = yield in dry sweet corn (t ha1).

variables PH, SD, LL and SCL, where the values of the coefcient were low (0.36, 0.329, 0.459 and 0.379, respectively, Table 5), all the variables had acceptable values, above 0.7, which shows a good data t to the regression model used. Moisture tension and phosphate doses were calculated in all variables, where they show a maximum value in the regressions, shown in Table 5. As far as the moisture tension factor, extreme values were evident, according to the regressions, for humidity tensions varying from 14.41 to 22.22 kPa. In the case of phosphate fertilization, extreme values were evident in phosphate doses varying from 91.41 to 122.69 kg ha1. In every case, the maximum values for the evaluated variables, determined in the regression models, were within the variation range explored for moisture tension. However, with regard to the phosphate fertilization factor, the maximum values in all the variables were near or above the maximum dose explored (100 kg ha1). This suggests a need to explore higher fertilization doses in the plot soil in order to establish the physiological optimum. Figs. 24 show the effect of moisture tension at the time of irrigation on the plant dry weight, fresh weight of sweet corn cobs including bracts, and on fresh sweet corn yield, respectively. The graphs were done using regression model 3 with moisture tension as independent variable, and including the values determined experimentally. In the gures is illustrated the effect that moisture tension in the soil at the time of irrigation has on PDW, SCFW, and YFSC, including a curve for each level of phosphate fertilization. It can be seen that the models adequately represent the behaviour of

the variables as a function of the applied fertilization doses and the moisture tensions, although the t was better for YFSC, which had the highest determination quotient. An increment in the values of the variables is observed as moisture tension in the soil at the moment of irrigation was lower, until reaching a maximum value of moisture tensions near 18 kPa in all the cases. According to the regression model, the maximum plant dry weight, highest fresh weight of the sweet corn cob, and maximum yield in fresh sweet corn expected in the study zone for the evaluated maize variety are 146.31, 366.03 g, and 20.6 t ha1, respectively, when irrigation is applied to moisture tension in the soil near 15 kPa, and a phosphate dose near 100 kg ha1. The effect of applying 80 kg ha1 of phosphates is much like when applying 100 kg ha1, thus even if the regression models point out an optimum physiological dose with values ranging from 91.41 to 122.69 kg P2O5 ha1 (Table 5), from the variance analysis we get that by applying just 80 kg P2O5 ha1, we get results which are statistically equal in all the variables. Figs. 5 and 6 show a bi-dimensional graphic representation of isovalues of the regression model, for the variables: fresh weight of sweet corn cobs including bracts, and yield in fresh sweet corn, with moisture tension and phosphate fertilization as independent variables. Perpendicular imaginary lines to the isovalue curves dene trajectories that maximize weight gain (or lost) of fresh sweet corn (Fig. 5), or yield of fresh sweet corn (Fig. 6). In both gures, the isovalue curves tend to be parallel to the ordinate axis, and a clear effect of the fertilizer can only be

Fig. 2. Effect of soil moisture tension at the beginning of irrigation (Th) and phosphate P2O5 fertilization (P) on plant dry weight of sweet corn A-7573 hybrid plants.

Fig. 3. Effect of soil moisture tension at the beginning of irrigation (Th) and phosphate P2O5 fertilization (P) on sweet corn cob fresh weight. A-7573 hybrid plants.

ndez et al. / Agricultural Water Management 96 (2009) 12851292 B. Rivera-Herna


Table 6 Number and mean of irrigations, and water laminate applied in moisture tension treatments evaluated. Irrigation treatment 5 kPa 30 kPa 55 kPa 80 kPa Number of irrigations Block one 30 20 14 12 Block two 30 22 16 14 Block three 29 22 17 12 Meana 29.7 21.3 15.7 12.7 493.6 403.1 290.0 210.9 544.0 453.5 340.4 261.3 Li (mm) Lt (mm)

Note: Li and Lt: irrigation laminate applied and total. a Mean of three blocks.

Table 7 Efciency in the use of total water (EUt) for every irrigation treatment in fresh sweet corn yield (YFSC). Fig. 4. Effect of soil moisture tension at the beginning of irrigation (Th) and phosphate P2O5 fertilization (P) on yield in fresh sweet corn cob. A-7573 hybrid. Irrigation treatment 5 kPa 30 kPa 55 kPa 80 kPa YFSC (t ha1) 16.68 16.31 11.97 6.60 EUt (t ha1 mm1) 0.03067 0.03598 0.03517 0.02512

that the maximum physiological value of fresh weight of sweet corn (Fig. 5) and yield of fresh sweet corn (Fig. 6), according to the regression models, are obtained with doses of 102.6 and 103.29 kg ha1 of phosphate, and applying irrigation to a moisture tension of 17.1 and 14.41 kPa, respectively (Table 5). Although in every case the independent variables that lead to the physiological maximum were denable, from the variance analysis we get that with a moisture tension at the time of irrigation of 30 kPa and a phosphate dose of 80 kg P2O5 ha1 values can be obtained in the response variables statistically equal to the physiological optimum. 3.4. Efciency in the use of water
Fig. 5. Effect of soil moisture tension at the beginning of irrigation, and phosphate P2O5 fertilization, on sweet corn cob fresh weight, according to model 3.

observed in moisture tensions near 17 and 14 kPa, respectively, range to which the increase in the values of both variables (SCFW and YFSC) is greater when the phosphate dose is incremented. This indicates that the effect of adding the fertilizer is maximum only when the soil has a moisture optimum for the crop, and less so when the soil is dry or near saturation. It can be seen in the gures

In Table 6, the number of irrigations applied in every treatment and block, from the start of sowing in April till the end of the experiment at the beginning of July, as well as the average number of irrigations, the irrigation laminate applied and the total water laminate received by every moisture tension treatment, are presented. The difference between the last two values was conditioned by rainfall (50.4 mm) existing in the area during the experiment development. In Table 7, the efciency in the use of total water on fresh sweet corn yield is shown. It raises our attention that the most humid treatment had low efciency in the use of water because soil was kept close to saturation during the crop cycle. The highest efciency in the use of total water was found in treatment of 30 kPa, with a fresh sweet corn yield statistically equal to the one presented by the most humid treatment, even though its value was practically the same as the efciency reached by treatment of 55 kPa. 4. Conclusions Different levels of moisture tension at the moment of irrigation affected all response variables studied in the same way. The analysis of variance of the experiment showed that more humid treatments (5 and 30 kPa) were statistically equal, however they were distinct from the effect with the one of 55 kPa, which in turn resulted different from the driest one (p 0.01). The highest average values for all variables were observed in the most humid treatment, as a result of the low tension existent between the soil matrix and the water molecules.

Fig. 6. Effect of soil moisture tension at the beginning of irrigation, and phosphate P2O5 fertilization, on yield (t ha1) in fresh sweet corn cob, according to model 3.


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In all response variables tested, the effects of phosphate fertilization doses of 80 and 100 kg ha1 resulted statistically even, different from the effect of the lowest dose in all cases (p 0.01), with the only exception of the fresh sweet corn yield variable, where all were statistically equal. Applications of 80 kg P2O5 ha1 are sufcient for the agronomic characters of the A-7573 hybrid to express their genetic potential. The stress, caused by both lack of water and phosphorus deciency, affected considerably the variables related with biomass formation and sweet corn weight: SDW, PDW, SCFW, SCDW, YFSW, and YDSW, and to a lesser extent those related with plant and sweet corn growth: PH, SD, LL, and SCD. No interactions between irrigation and fertilization treatments were observed. A regression model was used to relate the measured values in the response variables to the study factors. Regarding the moisture tension factor, the extreme values were present, according to the regression equations, for moisture tensions varying from 14.41 to 22.22 kPa. In every case, the maximum values for the evaluated variables, determined in the regression models, were within the variation range explored for moisture tension. However, regarding the phosphate fertilization factor, the maximum values for all variables were near or above the maximum dose explored (100 kg ha1). This suggests a need to explore higher fertilization doses in the plot soil in order to establish a physiological optimum. References
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