Research Article

Influence of In-situ Soil Moisture Conservation Practices with Pusa Hydrogel on Physiological Parameters of Rainfed Cotton

A. Mohammed Ashraf, Ragavan, T. and Naziya Begam, S.

  • Page No:  548 - 557
  • Published online: 11 Dec 2020
  • DOI : HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.23910/1.2020.2151

  • Abstract
  •  ashrafbsa09040@gmail.com

The present study was undertaken to evaluate the impact of in-situ moisture conservation and stress management practices on crop growth indices and productivity of cotton under rainfed vertisol. The experiments were laid out at Regional Research Station, Aruppukottai, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu during rabi season (October-December) of 2016 and 2017 in split-plot design replicated thrice using cotton variety SVPR-2. The main plot treatments consisted of different in-situ moisture conservation measures viz., Broad Bed and Furrows (I1), Ridges and Furrows (I2) and Compartmental Bunding (I3). The subplot comprises with stress management practices viz., Soil application of pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 (S1) with different foliar spray of 1% KCl (S2), 5% Kaolin (S3), PPFM @ 500 ml ha-1  (S4), Salicylic acid 100 ppm (S5) and Control (S6). The results revealed that treatment combination of broad bed and furrow and soil application of Pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1+foliar spray of PPFM @ 500 ml ha-1 had recorded significantly higher crop growth indices like CGR, RGR, NAR, reduced proline content, higher values of relative leaf water content, chlorophyll SPAD values, yield attributes viz., sympodial branches plant-1, number of bolls plant-1, boll weight and seed cotton yield (1,786 kg ha-1).

Keywords :   BBF, pusa hydrogel, rainfed cotton

  • Introduction

    India ranks first among the countries that practice rainfed agriculture both in terms of extent and value of production (Sharma, 2011). Rainfed regions in India contribute substantially towards food grain production including 44 per cent of rice, 87 per cent of coarse cereals (sorghum, pearl millet, maize), 85 per cent of food legumes, 72 per cent of oilseeds, 65 per cent of cotton, and 90 per cent of minor millets. Overall, the rainfed areas produce 40 per cent of the food grains, support two-thirds of the livestock population and are  critical  to  food  security,  equity  and  sustainability  ( Raoet al., 2015).

     Globally, India ranks first in area (11.88 mha), accounting 30% of World acreage and 22% (35.1 million bales of lint) of the World cotton production with lint productivity of 568 kg ha-1. Nearly 65% of the cotton crop is cultivated under rainfed conditions in the country (Anonymous, 2017). In Tamil Nadu, 0.2 mha is under cotton cultivation with the production of 0.6 m bales with and lint productivity is 620 kg ha-1 (Anonymous, 2014). India has been the traditional home of cotton and their textiles. India has progressed substantially in improving both production and productivity of cotton, transforming from a net importer of cotton to become one among the largest exporters, shipping 6.9 million bales (2017-18) followed by USA.

    Moisture stress in cotton adversely affect both vegetative growth and major metabolic processes like photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, relative water content, chlorophyll stability index and proline content which ultimately results in reduction of biomass production and yield of cotton (Kannan et al., 2019). The in-situ rain water conservation measures have benefits such as reducing runoff, increasing groundwater recharge and improving the nutrient status (Nutietal., 2009). Soil and water conservation technologies are effective in reducing nutrient load in runoff thereby improving soil fertility and crop yields (Naudinet al., 2010). revealed that water harvesting reduced the runoff and erosion and increased infiltration and storage of water in the soil profile which delay the onset and occurrence of severe water stress thereby buffering the crop against damage caused by water deficits during dry periods (Nyamadzawoet al. 2013).

    To improve the soil moisture availability by reducing the evaporation losses and retaining the moisture in the effective rooting zone. The soil application of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) is found to be a promising methodology in rainfed areas. One such developed product is ‘Pusa hydrogel,’ which is the first successful indigenous semi-synthetic superabsorbent technology for conserving water and enhancing crop productivity and thereby increasing water use efficiency (Jain et al., 2017). This technology could be promising in terms of productivity improvement of rainfed crops and in combating the moisture stress in agriculture (Singh et al., 2018) and (Roy et al., 2019). To reduce transpiration losses, foliar application of nutrient formulations, growth regulators, antitranspirants etc. in cotton are being tried by many researchers. The work on biological formulation PPFM (pink pigmented facultative methylobacteria) on stress alleviation in rainfed crops is very limited, at the same time very promising results were documented by scientists. The PPFM, when used as foliar spray it releases osmoprotectants (sugars and alcohols) on the surface of the plants. This matrix helped to protect the plants from desiccation and high temperatures (Madhaiyanet al., 2006b). Whereas, the potassium as spray also enhanced drought tolerance in plants by mitigating harmful effects by increasing translocation and by maintaining water balance (Cakmak, 2005). Further, kaolin as an antitranspirant, applied as suspension to plant canopies and forms a film on leaves that increases reflection and reduces absorption of light (Singhet al., 2007). Salicylic acid is an endogenous growth regulator of phenolic nature, which participates in the regulation of physiological processes in order to mitigating the stress (Hayat Qaiseret al., 2010). Keeping this in view, an attempt was made to study the impact of in-situ moisture conservation and stress management practices on crop growth indices and productivity of cotton under rainfed agroecosystem.


  • Materials and Methods

    Field experiments were was conducted at the Regional research station, Aruppukottai, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Tamil Nadu, India during rabi season of 2016 and 2017 (October-December) with the cotton crop using the test variety SVPR - 2. The experimental site comes under the Southern agro-climatic zone of Tamil Nadu and geographically situated at 9º 33’N latitude, 78º 05’ E longitude, and at an altitude of 50 m above mean sea level. North-East Monsoon season was found more favourable in the Aruppukottai region since 42 percent of annual rainfall is being received during this monsoon season. The soil of the experimental fields was medium-deep, well-drained vertisol (Type Chromusterts). The soil is low in available nitrogen, low in available phosphorus and high in available potassium status. All packages of practices were carried out as per the recommendation of Anonymous, 2020.      

    The experiment was laid out in split-plot design, replicated thrice. The main plot treatments consisted of different in-situ moisture conservation measures viz., Broad Bed and Furrows (I1), Ridges and Furrows (I2) and Compartmental Bunding (I3). The subplot comprises with stress management practices viz., Soil application of Pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 (S1), Soil application of pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 + foliar spray of 1% KCl (S2), Soil application of Pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 + foliar spray of 5% Kaolin (S3), Soil application of Pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 + foliar spray of PPFM(pink pigmented facultative methylobacteria) @ 500 ml ha-1 (S4), Soil application of Pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 + foliar spray of Salicylic acid 100 ppm (S5) and Control (S6).

    2.1.   Method of PUSA gel application

    The desired amount of hydrogel (5 kg ha-1) was mixed with dry and fine sand of less than 0.25 mm size in 1:10 ratio, in order to distribute uniformly along the row. The sand mixed hydrogel was applied in line where the seed was sown (Narjary et al., 2013).

    2.2.  Time and method of foliar application for stress management

    The data analysis for the probability occurrence of 30 years rainfall in a standard week showed that there is a possibility of consecutive dry spells during 45th and 50th standard meteorological weeks with more than 80 percent probability based on historical rainfall probability analysis by markov chain method. So, to avoid stress, foliar spray has given at 45th and 50th standard weeks for the years of study 2016 and 2017 based on historical rainfall probability analysis by Markov chain method to fix foliar spray application during the experimentation period

    2.3. Proline content

    The leaf proline accumulation was estimated as described by Bates et al. (1973). Leaf sample (500 mg) was homogenized with 10 ml of 3% sulphosalicylic acid and centrifuged at 3000 rpm for 10 minutes. The supernatant solution was collected. Two ml of the aliquot was taken to which 2 ml of glacial acetic acid, 2 ml of 2.5% acid ninhydrin reagent and 2 ml of 6 M orthophosphoric acid were added. The final content was boiled over the water bath at 100°C for one hour for colour development. The content was cooled to room temperature and transferred into a seperating funnel to which 4 ml of toluence was added and stirred well for 20-30 seconds. Coloured layer was collected by separating the toluence layer and optical density (OD) was measured at 520 nm in a Spectrophotometer. Simultaneously, a series of standard solution with pure proline in the same way was maintained and the OD was recorded. The quantity of proline in the sample was calculated with reference to the standard curve and expressed in terms of µmol g FW-1.

    2.4.  Relative leaf water content

    The relative leaf water content was estimated by the method prescribed by Subbarao et al. (2000). Ten discs from the leaves of three hills were collected randomly in each treatment and weighed accurately up to fourth decimal on an electrically operated single pan analytical balance.  This was considered as the fresh weight.  The weighed leaf discs were allowed to float on distilled water in a Petri dish and allowed to absorb water for four hours. After  four  hours,  the  leaf  discs  were  taken  out  and  their  surface  was  blotted  gently  and weighed. This was referred to as turgid weight. After drying these leaf discs in oven at 70ºC for 48 hours, the dry weight was recorded and designated as dry weight.  The RLWC was calculated by the following formula.

    RLWC (%)=(Fresh weight–Dry weight)/(Turgid weight–Dry weight)×100

    2.5. Chlorophyll content (SPAD reading)

    Chlorophyll content of leaves were recorded as described by Penget al. (1993) using the chlorophyll meter (SPAD – 502, Soil Plant analysis Development Section, Minolta Camera Co. Ltd., Japan). The readings were recorded on the upper most fully expanded leaves in five randomly chosen plants at different growth stages. The average values were worked out and expressed as SPAD readings.Crop Growth Rate Watson (1958), Relative growth rate (RGR) (Enyi, 1962) and Net Assimilation Rate (NAR) (Enyi, 1962).

    2.6. Seed cotton yield

    The seed cotton yield was obtained from the net plot area was shade dried, weighed at each picking, and yields of all picking were added and then expressed in kilogram per hectare.

    2.7. Statistical analysis

    The data pertaining to the experiment were subjected to statistical analysis by Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) using AGRES (Data Entry Module for Agrees Statistical software version 3.01, 1994 Pascal Intl. Software Solutions). Differences between mean values were evaluated for significance using Least Significant Difference (LSD) at 5% probability level as suggested by (Gomez and Gomez, 1984).


  • Results and Discussion

    3.1. Growth indices of cotton

    Crop growth rate, Relative growth rate, and net assimilation rate were recorded at 30-60, 60-90 and 90-120 DAS. The in-situ moisture conservation practices and stress management measures exerted significant influence on the CGR, RGR and NAR of cotton at all stages of observation.

    Physiological parameters like CGR, RGR and NAR were found to increase up to 90 DAS, and decrease thereafter. The increasing trend between 60-90 DAS may be due to the canopy achieves full interception of light, the variation in leaf area is a powerful determinant for differences in crop growth (Gifford and Jenkins, 1982). However, after canopy closure, photosynthetic CO2 exchange per unit leaf area may become an important determinant of CGR, RGR and NAR. Therefore, it is assumed that a decline in growth parameters after flowering might be due to a reduction in CO2 exchange per unit leaf area as a result of mutual shading. An increase in the net assimilation rate may be attributed to increased photosynthetic capacity.

    As an in-situ moisture conservation measure, BBF recorded higher values of CGR, RGR and NAR at different stages of the crop in both the years, compared to other land configurations for in-situ moisture conservation. This might be due to higher soil moisture, which favors the nutrient uptake, which in turn reflected in higher LAI, specific leaf weight and dry matter production. A sufficient amount of soil moisture to meet the plant requirement under this treatment produced taller plants and higher LAI and consequently higher DMP, which led to higher physiological parameters. This result corroborates the findings of Nasrullahet al. (2011). Further, during the period of heavy rainfall BBF allow water to drain safely from the plots and thus avoid water congestion to the crop.

    Regarding stress management practices, soil application of Pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 + foliar spray of PPFM @ 500 ml ha-1 registered highest values of CGR, RGR, and NAR at different stages of crop in both the years of experimentation. CGR is influenced by LAI, photosynthetic rate, and leaf angle. A similar increase in CGR was observed in the soil treated with the superabsorbent polymer. Similar results also recorded by Yazdani et al. (2007) in soybean. SAPs can be efficiently used to reduce erosion, runoff, and soil losses, increasing the infiltration rates and the hydrophilic nature of the soil surface, which aids seed germination, emergence, and growth rate (Roqieh et al., 2013).

    Further, PPFM favored the production of plant growth regulators, IAA, cytokinin, and GA, which resulted in diverse physiological effects in plants. It stimulates the division, extension and differentiation of plant cells, enhances plant growth parameters like CGR, RGR and NAR. Similar results were also reported by Sivakumar et al. (2017) (Table 1, 2 and 3). 


    3.2. Effect of in-situ moisture conservation and stress management practices on stress parameters

    3.2.1.  Relative Leaf water content (RLWC)

    Maintenance of higher RLWC helps in sustaining the photosynthetic capacity of plants which ultimately contributes to better yield. Shortage of water supply in water limited environment affects growth and yield of plants by lowering tissue water status and turgor (Gadallah, 2000).

    BBF system recorded higher RLWC compared to other in-situ moisture conservation measures. This might be due to higher infiltration and lower loss of rain water through runoff. This leads to high soil moisture content at the root zone which increased the plant water status. The results are in conformity with those of Selvaraju and Balasubramanian (2001) and Vivek and Bosu, (2014)

    Regarding stress management practices, soil application of pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 + foliar spray of PPFM @ 500 ml ha-1 registered the maximum RLWC values at all the stages of observation in both the years of experimentation. The superabsorbent polymer amendment increased the relative water content (RLWC) by storing and absorbing considerable water and reducing the negative effects of water shortage on plants. The superabsorbent polymer incorporation reduced the illeffects of excess moisture, reduced the electrolyte leakage and proline accumulation and also increased the leaf chlorophyll content.It collaborates with the findings of Mohammad and Fardin, (2012). In addition to this, PPFM spray released the osmoprotectants (sugars and alcohols) on the surface of the plants. This matrix helped to protect the plants from desiccation and high temperatures This was confirmed with the findings of  (Madhaiyanet al., 2006a). Stress management practices also showed a significant influence on chlorophyll content. PPFM spray boosted the plant water status and enhanced the chlorophyll content in plants. Further, the gibberellic acid produced by PPFM, might have increased the chlorophyll content, photosynthetic activity by enhancing the number of stomata, stomatal conductance and plant water status. The similar findings also reported by Madhaiyanet al. (2004) (Table 4).


    3.2.2. Leaf accumulated proline

    Proline accumulation is believed to play vital role in plant stress tolerance. Proline accumulation in response to stress is widely reported and may play a role in stress adaptation within the cell (Gilbertet al., 1998). Proline was one of the key osmolytes contributing towards osmotic adjustments (Hare and Cress, 1997). Proline accumulation is believed to play vital role in plant stress tolerance. Moisture stress induces a significant decrease in metabolic factors such as decrease in chlorophyll content and enhanced accumulation of proline (Dinet al., 2011). The accumulation of free proline in stressed plants has been found to be an adaptive mechanism for drought tolerance.

    In the present investigation, in-situ moisture conservation measures had a significant influence on the leaf accumulated proline content. When moisture stress increased the proline levels also increased. This was the possible reason to account for the accumulation and synthesis of proline to suppress the internal osmotic potential for maintain a positive gradient of water uptake under stress conditions. The compartmental bunding recorded higher levels of proline which was subjected to moisture stress often. In contrast, Minimum amount of proline levels was noticed with the broad bed and furrows system. The oxidation of proline under sufficient moisture conditions and subsequent conversion of proline to glutamic acid and other compounds were the possible reasons for low proline accumulation in BBF.

    In the case of stress management practices, soil application of pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 + foliar spray of PPFM @ 500 ml ha-1 registered lower proline level. This may due to water retention and available water capacity effectively increased with application of SAPs and its indicating the possible reduction in deep percolation losses in the soils leading to more available water within root zone to the plants for their extraction. The plants grown in hydrogel treated soil had more available water for its growth with higher stomatal conductance and higher leaf water potential for longer periods of time (Rehmanet al., 2011).

    Increased proline content of leaves indicates more moisture stressed of crops under rainfed condition. In the present study also moisture stressed treatments recorded higher proline levels.. The major reason for increase in proline concentration during moisture stress may be ascribed to lesser incorporation of continuously synthesized amino acid, proline during proline synthesis. The methanol is a natural product of plant metabolism, and it has now come to light that most plants also emit it from their leaves. PPFMs also responsible for the release of utilize methanol might play a role in the generation of increased quantities of ATP and NADH in the guard cells during photorespiration process and enhanced the sugar level of leaf. Thus it can maintain plant water status and reduces excess transpiration losses in the crops by osmotic adjustment (Madhaiyanet al., 2006b). With the help of PPFM, cytokinin which stops chlorophyllase enzyme synthesis which leads to less amount of chlorophyll content of the leaf retarded. Which can able capture of more amount sunlight which used for more photosynthetic efficiency (Madhaiyan et al., 2004) (Table 5).


    3.2.3. Leaf chlorophyll meter - SPAD readings

    The chlorophyll meter - SPAD instantly measures chlorophyll content or “greenness” of plants. Chlorophyll meter- SPAD readings significantly varied with in-situ moisture conservation measures and stress management practices in boththe years. Generally, there was progressive increase with advancement of crop growth upto flowering and declined towards maturity.

    Adoption of BBF exhibited significantly higher chlorophyll SPAD values in leaf tissue at all growth stages during both the seasons of experimentation. Higher chlorophyll content of plant leaves is associated with better uptake of N which needs adequate moisture supply in the root zone. The higher root volume under broad bed and furrows system increased the solubility and mobility of nutrients and helped to absorb more nutrients which enhanced the chlorophyll synthesis. Similar findings was also reported by Johnkutty and Palaniappan (1995).

    Stress management practices also showed a significant influence on chlorophyll content Regarding stress management practices, the maximum SPAD values were observed under soil application of pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 at 60 DAS during both the 2016 and 2017. The superabsorbent polymer incorporation reduced the illeffects of excess moisture, reduced the electrolyte leakage and proline accumulation and also increased the leaf chlorophyll content. This was confirmed with the findings of  Mohammad and Fardin (2012). In addition, PPFM spray boosted the plant water status and enhanced the chlorophyll content in plants. Further, the gibberellic acid produced by PPFM, might have increased the chlorophyll content, photosynthetic activity by enhancing the number of stomata and stomatal conductance. The similar findings also reported by Madhaiyanet al. (2004) (Table 6).


    3.3. Effect of in-situ moisture conservation and stress management practices on yield attributes of cotton

    The seed cotton yield is the manifestation of yield attributes viz., sympodial branches per plant, number of bolls plant-1 and boll weight. All these yield parameters were significantly influenced by the in-situ moisture conservation and stress management practices.

    The number of sympodial branches per plant was found to be was significantly higher with than the treatments. Due to increased and continuous availability of soil moisture under broad bed and furrows system, the growth was enhanced and consequently the number of sympodial branches increases. The higher number of bolls plant-1 was noticed under broad bed and furrows than the other moisture conservation methods. This might also be ascribed to higher retention of moisture in boll development stage and better aeration in rooting zone. This leads to more numbers of bolls productions. Similar results were also reported by Kuotsu et al. (2014). The adoption of BBF method recorded significantly higher boll weight compared to other in-situ moisture conserving land management practices. This may be due to increased DMP and better translocation of photosyntheates from source to sink and resulted in better development of bolls.

    Among the stress management practices, soil application of pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1 + foliar spray of PPFM @ 500 ml ha-1 recorded higher number of sympodial branches plant-1, bolls plant-1 andboll weight respectively over control. This might be due to application of superabsorbent polymers helped to alleviate drought stress through retention of more moisture in the rooting zone and increased number and weight of bolls. Further, foliar application of PPFM, increased total dry matter production of cotton due to better translocation of photosyntheates and led to better boll development and boll weight. These results are in conformity with observations made by Madhaiyan et al. (2006 b) (Table 7).


    3.4. Effect of in-situ moisture conservation and stress management practices on Seed cotton yield

    Yield is contributed by different yield parameters and any change in one parameter as influenced by an extraneous factor will alter the yield significantly. In the present study, the increase in seed cotton yield could be attributed to greater and consistent available soil moisture due to combined influence of BBF, soil conditioner and foliar nutrition of PPFM increased that resulted in better crop growth rate and seed cotton yield.

    Among the in-situ moisture conservation measure, BBF recorded a significantly higher seed cotton yield. The yield increases under BBF as compared to compartmental bunding. The broad bed furrow system significantly influenced the seed cotton yield as compared to other land configuration. Increment in seed cotton yield is due to more soil moisture availability at the root zone which favored better crop growth rate and higher translocation leading to the production of larger leaf area which was responsible for harvesting more solar energy. This coupled with higher stomatal conductance and transpiration rate resulted in the accumulation of more photosynthates and, ultimately, the seed cotton yield. This is in similarity to the findings of Muralidaran and Solaimalai (2005).

    Higher seed cotton yield was realized with a complementary alliance of in-situ moisture conservation measures with stress management practices in the present study. Significant influence by stress management practices also recorded with soil application of Pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1+foliar spray of PPFM @ 500 ml ha-1 which registered higher seed cotton yield This was followed by soil application of Pusa hydrogel @ 5 kg ha-1+foliar spray of 1% KCl (S2). The lower seed cotton yield was recorded under control (S6), respectively. This may be due to the increased growth indices, could be because of sufficient availability of soil moisture and better nutrients availability due to superabsorbent polymer application under water stress condition, which in turn leads to better translocation of water, nutrients and photoassimilates and finally better plant development. Similar findings were also reported by El-Hady et al. (1981) under water stress conditions. The increase in the seed cotton yield because of the several factors such as the release of growth-promoting substances like auxins, particularly indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and indole-3-pyruvic acid, zeatin, zeatinriboside, proliferation of beneficial organisms in the phyllosphere and reacted cytokinins by methylotrophs has been reported as the factors that enhance plant growth of crops, the increase in the vegetative growth of the plant attributed to the increase in the yield of a crop. The foliar application of PPFM @ 500 ml ha-1 maintained physiological activity during stress period and thereby overcoming the water stress which ultimately resulted in increased the seed yield of cotton. From the above discussion, it could be concluded that foliar application of PPFM favorably influenced the seed cotton yield.


  • Conclusion

    The crop grown under broad bed and furrows combined with foliar application of PPFM spray at 500 ml ha-1 recorded higher crop growth indices like CGR (5.57 g m2 day1), RGR (0.0129 g g1 day1), NAR (0.1213 mg cm-2 day-1), reduced proline content (8.71 μmol g-1 FW), higher values of relative leaf water content (75.4 %), chlorophyll SPAD values (43.2) and seed cotton yield (1,786 kg ha-1).


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