Research Article

Mulching Effects on Stress Management of Cotton in Relation to Irrigation and Nitrogen Levels

Ritika Joshi and C. B. Singh

  • Page No:  733 - 739
  • Published online: 26 Dec 2018
  • DOI : HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.23910/IJBSM/2018.9.6.1921

  • Abstract
  •  ritikajoshi964@gmail.com

Severity of increasing temperature worldwide presents an alarming threat to crop production. Wider row-to-row and plant-to-plant spacing and high temperature lead to higher rate of evaporation and stress to cotton production. Effect of mulching on stress (water, nutrient and heat) and their associated effects on leaf water potential, canopy temperature, NDVI and SPAD value were evaluated during 2015 and 2016 cotton growing seasons in research farm of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab (India). A two-year field experiment was conducted and treatment included two mulch rates (0 and 6 t ha-1), three irrigation regimes (Irrigation water to cumulative pan evaporation ratio 0.2, 0.3 and 0.4) and four nitrogen rates (0, 50, 100 and 150 Kg ha-1) in factorial split plot design. Mulching has positive role in minimizing the effect of stress. Leaf water potential was higher under mulched crop over no mulched crop. Crop residue mulched canopy was 1.9-3.0, 1.7-2.3 and 1.8-3.0 °C cooler than the no mulched (stressed) canopy at I0.4, I0.3 and I0.2 irrigation regimes. There was significantly increase in SPAD value with increasing irrigation input and in order of I0.4> I0.3> I0.2 throughout the growing season. The SPAD value with mulch plot was significantly higher than the without mulch and the improvement was 2.3, 3.8, and 3.5 at 55, 82 and 110 DAS. Nitrogen rates significantly influenced the NDVI values at 55, 78 and 99 DAS. Nitrogen application also significantly increased SPAD value and with increased nitrogen rates SPAD value increased.

Keywords :   Mulching, nitrogen levels, irrigation, cotton, leaf water potential

  • Introduction

    When cotton grown during the summer (May-october), the crop experiences high water and heat stress, unless it is frequently irrigated. It has been reported for other crops that sub-optimal soil water status and/or a supra-optimal soil temperature reduce root growth, water and nutrient uptake and grain yield. In north-western India, cotton is sown immediately after wheat harvest and the summer season demands frequent irrigation and cotton crop is very sensitive to irrigation as excess irrigation in its starting period and uncontrolled water stress at later stages may adversely affect the cotton yield (Kashefipour et al.,2006). Mulching with straw offers a means of moderating supra-optimal soil temperatures, conserving moisture and increasing crop yield (Khera et al., 1976). Where cotton crops are grown during the summer, therefore, mulching treatments will improve soil moisture conditions and soil temperature conditions. Mulching and residue retention on soil surface is a crucial factor that can modify soil hydrothermal regimes, influence plant growth, and yield. It was reported that mulching conserved moisture content in soil, increased plant growth (Fang et al., 2011), moderate soil temperature, enhance water infiltration rate during intensive rain and controlled water erosion and runoff by reducing the rain drop impact and suppressed weed growth (Glab and Kulig, 2008). Plant growth has been reported to be greatly influenced by soil temperature as it has marked effect on their various physiological and metabolic processes viz., nutrient uptake, synthesis and translocation of metabolites, respiration, formation and activity of growth regulators, cell division and on various soil phenomena, viz., soil water retention and movement, gaseous exchange, evaporation, ion-movement, release and availability of plant nutrients and microbial activity. Soil temperature is more important for plant growth than air temperature. Numerous reports revealed that residue mulch affects hydrothermal regime by moderating soil temperature and reducing the soil water evaporation (E) component of evapo-transpiration (ET) that improves crop yields in tropical and subtropical regions (Lal, 1974; Kar and Kumar, 2007; Arora et al., 2011) and economized irrigation water use (Gajri et al., 1997). Surface soil moisture under the residue will evaporate slower, after the wetting event; cumulative evaporation from the residue-covered surface can exceed that of the bare surface. Bt cotton being highly exhaustive crop with regard to plant nutrients, fairly large quantities of nutrients are required (Rao and Setty, 2002). Nitrogen fertilization significantly affects plant growth, lint yields and fibre quality (Bondada et al., 1996, Boquet et al., 1993). Deficient N levels from emergence to early blooming could lead to inadequate vegetative growth, resulting in decreased fruiting (Gardner and Tucker, 1967, Clawson et al., 2008). In contrast, an over-dose of N will promote excessive vegetative development and delay maturity (Hodges, 2002).


  • Materials and Methods

    The field experiment was conducted at the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana situated at 38°56’N latitude and 75°52’ E longitude at a height of 247 m above mean sea level during summer seasons of 2015 and 2016. Monthly maximum temperature of 39.9 °C was recorded in the month of May, minimum temperature of 19.0 °C was recorded in the month of October in 2015, monthly maximum temperature of 39.5 °C was recorded in the month of May, and minimum temperature of 19.1 °C was recorded in the month of October in 2016. Total rainfall received during the cropping season was 542.1 and 529.9 mm with maximum rain of 256.1 and 305.5 mm was recorded in the month of July in 2015 and 2016 cotton growing season. The soil of the experimental site was deep alluvial sandy loam in texture developed under hyperthermic regimes. The experiment was laid out in a factorial split plot design keeping combination of three irrigation regimes of 0.2, 0.3 and 0.4 (based on IW/ PAN-E ratios) and rice residue mulch two rates (0 and 6 t ha-1) in main plots and four nitrogen rates in sub plots and replicated three times. All main plot treatments were randomized in each replication and all sub plot treatments were randomized in each main plot treatment and replication. The water applied in each irrigation was 70 mm for all the treatments. These irrigation schedules were maintained in the soil profile during crop growing period of Bt cotton. The I0.4 received 2 irrigations; I0.3and I0.2 received 1-1 irrigation in both the years. The rates of rice straw mulch included: no mulch (M0) and 6 t (M6) rice straw ha−1 Four nitrogen rates (0, 50, 100 and 150 kg ha-1) were randomized as sub treatments.


  • Results and Discussion

    3.1.  Leaf water potential

    Figure 1 (a) indicated leaf water potential at I0.4 irrigation regimes at different days after sowing. Leaf water potential was higher under mulched crop (-11.1, -10.0 and -9.2 MPa) over no mulched crop (-13.5, -12.8 and -10.0 MPa) at 28, 45 and 55 DAS in 2015 and under mulched crop (-11.1, -10.5 and -9.0 MPa) over no mulched crop (-14.3, -13.9 and -11.7 MPa) at 23, 43 and 58 DAS, respectively in 2016. Nitrogen application enhanced leaf water potential over N0 treatment in both the year and it was 0.6, 0.5 and 0.8 MPa higher in N150 over N0 in 2015 at 28, 45 and 55 DAS and 0.6, 0.7 and 0.5 MPa at 23, 43 and 58 DAS, respectively in 2016. Fig 1 (b) indicated leaf water potential at I0.2 irrigation regimes at different days after sowing. Same trend as in case of I0.4 irrigation regimes was observed under I0.2 irrigation regimes. Higher leaf water potential in I0.4 irrigation regimes at 28 and 23 DAS was mainly due to better soil moisture status. With advancement of growing days differences in leaf water potential diminishes.


    3.2.  Canopy temperature

    Figure 2 shows that crop residue mulched canopy was 1.9-3.0, 1.7-2.3 and 1.8-3.0 °C cooler than the no mulched (stressed) canopy at I0.4, I0.3 and I0.2 irrigation regimes. Soil moisture changes as a result of different irrigation ratios appeared to have more pronounced effect on canopy temperature.


    At 35 DAS, mean canopy temperature was 35.7, 34.7 and 33.8 °C in I0.2, I0.4 and I0.3 irrigation regimes and lowest temperature at I0.3 irrigation regimes was mainly due to availability of water due to irrigation prior to canopy temperature measurement and at I0.4 few days before measurement and no irrigation at I0.2 irrigation regimes till the measurement. At 52 DAS, mean canopy temperature was equal in I0.4 (27.9 °C) and I0.2 (27.5 °C) irrigation regimes and highest at I0.3 (28.2 °C) irrigation regimes because at I0.4 and I0.2 availability of water due to irrigation prior to measurement. At 79 DAS, mean canopy temperature was equal under I0.4, I0.3 and I0.2 irrigation regimes.

    Figure 2 revealed that crop residue mulched canopy was 2.0-2.8, 1.9-2.3 and 1.5-2.9 °C cooler than the no mulched canopy at I0.4, I0.3 and I0.2 irrigation regimes. The difference in canopy temperature in mulched and unmulched canopy was more at 30 DAS and decreased with the growing season at 50 and 63 DAS. It may be due to that sufficient amount of rainfall at later stages minimized the deficit conditions. 

    Nitrogen is one of the factors that directly influence canopy growth and dry matter production. Figure 3 depicted that the crop canopy with N3 (150 kg N ha-1) treatment was cooler than the N0.


    Crop canopy N0 treatment termed as stressed and N3 treatment crop canopy termed as unstressed canopy. Same trend of nitrogen effect on canopy temperature was observed in all irrigation regimes. The unstressed crop canopy was 0.7-1.2, 0.8-1.6 and 1.3-1.5 °C cooler than the stressed crop canopy at I0.4, I0.3 and I0.2 irrigation regimes. This might be due to the reason that availability of more nutrient in N3 treatment and better growth of plant as compared to control treatment. Same trend was observed in 2016 crop growing season. Garden et al. (1981) reported a difference of 2 to 8 °C in the canopy temperature between the stresses and unstressed leaves of crop.

    3.3.  Leaf chlorophyll content (SPAD value)

    Periodic chlorophyll content (SPAD) value of 3rd leaf from top of cotton affected by residue mulch, different level of irrigation and nitrogen rates is given in Table 1.


    There was significantly increase in SPAD value with increasing irrigation input and in order of I0.4> I0.3> I0.2 throughout the growing season. Table 1 depicts that the increase in SPAD value in I0.4 was 5.5, 4.5 and 4.3 at 55, 82 and 110 DAS, respectively over the restricted irrigation I0.2. The corresponding increase in I0.3 was 3.7, 1.9 and 2.5, respectively. The SPAD value with mulch plot was significantly higher than the without mulch and the improvement was 2.3, 3.8, and 3.5 at 55, 82 and 110 DAS. Nitrogen application also significantly increased SPAD value and with increased nitrogen rates SPAD value increased. Higher SPAD value was observed in N150 at 55, 82 and 110 DAS and increase was 19.6, 8.2 and 9.8 per cent at 55, 82 and 110 DAS over N0 treatment. As nitrogen availability to plant increase the chlorophyll content in plant leaves also increased that reflect in higher SPAD value in mulch plot, higher irrigation regimes and higher nitrogen rates. Application of straw mulching, frequent irrigation and optimum nitrogen to crop maintained optimum soil moisture status in the root zone that accelerated the nitrogen uptake by plant. Similar results were observed during 2016 (Table 1). SPAD value increased with increase in irrigation ratio and it was 4.5, 4.2 and 4.0 with I0.4 at 62, 85 and 120 DAS, respectively over the restricted irrigation I0.2. Due to mulch SPAD value was higher by 2.7, 3.9 and 3.2 at 62, 85 and 120 DAS, respectively over no mulch. With increase in nitrogen rates, SPAD value increased by 7.0, 3.4 and 3.5 in N150 at 62, 85 and 120 DAS over N0 treatment.

    3.4.  Normalized differential vegetative index (NDVI)

    Measurement of NDVI is a common approach to monitoring plant growth and biomass non-destructively. From the Table 2 it is clear that mean NDVI values recorded higher in frequent irrigation (I0.4) as compared to I0.3 and I0.2 irrigation regimes and higher nitrogen rates recorded higher NDVI value. In 2015, mean comparison shows that  there was a significant increase in NDVI values with increase in irrigation frequency, maximum values was observed in I0.4 plots followed by I0.3 and I0.2 at 55 and 78 DAS but at later stages (99 DAS), the values did not differ significantly (Table 2).


    It may be due to that sufficient amount of rainfall at later stages minimized the effect of irrigation regime. The increase in NDVI of I0.4 over I0.2 was 0.13 (26.5%) and 0.04 (5.63%) at 55 and 78DAS and there is no increment of NDVI value of I0.4 over I0.2 was observed at 99 DAS.Application of straw mulch also significantly increased the NDVI values 0.06 (11.5%), 0.03 (4.2%) and 0.03 (3.6%) at 55, 78 and 99 DAS, respectively over no mulch. Nitrogen rates significantly influenced the NDVI values at 55, 78 and 99 DAS. Highest NDVI value was recorded at N100 treatment. The increment of NDVI value was 0.06, 0.09 and 0.07 in N100 over N0 treatment at 55, 78 and 99 DAS irrespective of irrigation and mulch.

    In 2016, there was a significant increase in NDVI values with increase in irrigation frequency, maximum values was observed in I0.4 plots followed by I0.3 and I0.2 at 62 DAS but at later stages (92 DAS), the values did not differ significantly (Table 2). The increase in NDVI of I0.4 over I0.2 was 0.04 (6.0%) at 62 DAS and there is 0.01 (1.0%) decrement of NDVI value of I0.4 over I0.2 was observed at 99 DAS. Application of straw mulch also significantly increased the NDVI values 0.02 (3.0 per cent) at 62 DAS over no mulch and there was no increment at 92 DAS. With increase in nitrogen rates, there was significantly increase in NDVI values at 62 and 92 DAS. Nitrogen rates significantly influenced the NDVI values at 62 and 92 DAS. The increment of NDVI value was 0.06 and 0.03 in N150 over N0 treatment at 62 and 92 DAS irrespective of irrigation and mulch.

    3.5.  NDVI and seed cotton yield relationship

     Regression equation was developed with NDVI to seed cotton yield of Bt. The mean NDVI Values in different irrigation, nitrogen and crop residue mulch was recorded at 55, 78 and 99 days after sowing and correlated with seed cotton yield (Table 3). The NDVI value recorded at different stages explain 65 to 80% of variation in seed cotton yield.


  • Conclusion

    Mulching can minimize the stressed conditions in cotton, economize water by providing better hydrothermal regime and improved leaf water potential, SPAD value, canopy temperature, NDVI values, and ultimately seed cotton yield of crop. The interactive effects of irrigation, mulching and nitrogen were also meaningful.


  • Reference
  • Arora, V.K., Singh, C.B., Sidhu A.S., Thind S.S., 2011.Irrigation,tillage and mulching effects on soyabean yield and water productivity in relation to soil texture. Agricultural Water Management 98, 563–568.

    Bondada, B.R., Oosterhuis, D.M., Norman, R.J., Baker, W.H., 1996. Canopy photosynthesis, growth, yield, and boll 15N accumulation under nitrogen stress in cotton. Crop Science 36, 127–133.

    Boquet, D.J,, Moser, E.B., Breitenbeck, G.A., 1993. Nitrogen effects on boll production of field-grown cotton. Agronomy Journal85, 34–39.

    Clawson, E.L., Cothren, J.T., Blouin, D.C., Satterwhite, J.L., 2008. Timing of maturity in ultra-narrow and conventional row cotton as affected by nitrogen fertilizer rate. Agronomy Journal100, 421–431.

    Fang, S.Z., Xie, B.D., Liu, D., Liu J.J., 2011. Effects of mulching materials on nitrogen mineralization, nitrogen availability and poplar growth on degraded agricultural soils. New Forest 41, 147–162.

    Gardner, B.R., Tucker, T.C., 1967. Nitrogen effects on cotton. I. Vegetative and fruiting characteristics. II. Soil and petiole analysis. Soil Science Society of America Procter3, 780–91.

    Gajri, P.K., Gill, K.S., Chaudhary, M.R., Singh, R., 1997. Irrigation of sunflower in relation to tillage and mulching. Agricultural Water Management 34, 149–160.

    Garden, B.R., Blad, B.L., Watts, D.G., 1981. Plant and air temperature in differentially irrigated cotton. Agricultural Meteorology 25, 2017–217.

    Glab, T., Kulig, B., 2008. Effect of mulch and tillage system on soil porosity under wheat. Soil Tillage Research 99, 169–178.

    Hodges, S.C., 2002. Fertilization. In: Edmisten, K.L. (Ed.) Cotton information, Pubi AG-417. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Raleigh, NC, 40–54.

    Kar, G., Kumar, A., 2007. Effects of irrigation and straw mulch on water use and tuber yield of potato in eastern India. Agricultural Water Management 94, 109–116.

    Kashefipour, S.M., Nasab, B.S., Sohrabi, B., 2006. Optimization of water productivity using production and cost functions for cotton.  Agronomy Journal 5, 28–31.

     Khera, K.L., Khera, R., Parihar, S.S., Sandhu, B.S., Sandhu, K.S., 1976. Mulch, nitrogen and irrigation effects  On growth, yield and nutrient uptake of forage corn. Agronomy Journal 96, 1572–1580.

    Lal, R., 1974. Soil temperature, soil moisture and maize yield from mulched and unmulched tropical soils. Plant Soil 40, 129–143.

    Rao, S., Setty, R.A., 2002. Response of hybrid cotton to levels and times of nitrogen and  potash application under irrigated condition. Journal of Cotton Research Development16, 188–189


People also read

Short Research

Preference Towards Online Mode of Distance Education Courses–conjoint Analysis

M. Malarkodi, V. M. Indumathi and S. Praveena

Conjoint analysis, distance education, preference, online learning

Published Online : 07 Feb 2018