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Silicon and potassium interaction to increase water use efficiency in irrigated maize cultivation

Grant number: 22/13191-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2023
Effective date (End): September 30, 2026
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Crop Science
Principal Investigator:Renato de Mello Prado
Grantee:Milton Garcia Costa
Host Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Agrárias e Veterinárias (FCAV). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Jaboticabal. Jaboticabal , SP, Brazil


Irrigated cultivation of annual crops, such as maize, has been expanding globally in recent years, while facing water constraints. Therefore, strategic research is essential to increase water use efficiency sustainably. Balanced plant nutrition can contribute to improving water use efficiency, especially through the supply of silicon (Si) and potassium (K). However, the synergistic effects of using both elements are still unknown. Therefore, it is important to investigate the hypotheses that (i) Si, a multi-stress element, can mitigate the damage caused by water deficit and K deficiency; (ii) optimal supply of Si and K can reduce water requirements while maintaining high yield; (iii) the presence of Si and K can affect plant biomass decomposition. To address these hypotheses, two experiments will be conducted over two consecutive years with treatments consisting of a 3x2x4 factorial design. The three water regimes will be 80% (no deficit), 60% (moderate deficit), and 40% (severe deficit) of soil water holding capacity. Two potassium fertilization levels will be applied: deficient and sufficient K, along with four Si doses: 0, 4, 8, and 12 kg ha-1. Physiological, biochemical, vegetative growth, nutritional, and nutrient cycling aspects will be evaluated. The expected results can contribute to the development of more efficient management strategies aimed at increasing crop yield and sustainability. Additionally, valuable information will be provided for farmers and researchers in making decisions related to water and nutrient management. (AU)

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