Field Screening of Wheat Cultivars for Enhanced Growth, Yield, Yield Attributes, and Nitrogen Use Efficiencies

AGRONOMY-BASEL(2023)

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Abstract
Optimizing nitrogen (N) inputs is crucial for maximizing wheat yield and ensuring environmental sustainability. Wheat's economic significance in India calls for a comprehensive evaluation of its ecological implications to develop a resilient production system. This study aimed to identify and evaluate ten wheat cultivars for their yield and N-use efficiency under varying nitrogen inputs (control (N-0), half of the recommended nitrogen (N-75), and the recommended nitrogen (N-150)) using the surface application of neem-oil-coated urea. All N inputs were applied in three splits, basal, crown root initiation, and tillering stages, and an experiment was conducted in a split-plot design. The application of N150 gave the highest dry matter accumulation (DMA) at harvesting stage (AHS) (871 g m 2), seed/spike (60), grain yield (GY = 7.4 t ha (-1)), straw yield (SY = 8.9 t ha (-1)), harvest index (HI = 45.2%), protein (12.5%), and total uptake of N (TUN) (223 kg ha (-1)) by the cultivar 'HD 3249', being closely followed by the cultivar 'HD3117'. Six cultivars ('HD 3298', 'HD 3117', 'HD 3249', 'PBW 550', 'HD 3086', 'HD 2967') out of the ten cultivars evaluated responded well to different input treatments with respect to the grain yield efficiency index (GYEI >= 1). Regarding N input, N75 and N150 recorded the highest increases in plant height, AHS (16.5%; 21.2%), dry matter accumulation (DMA) at 30 days after sowing (DAS) (37.5%; 64%), DMA-60 DAS (42%; 53%), DMA-90 DAS (39.5%; 52.5%), TILL-30 DAS (19.8%; 26.4%), TILL-60 DAS (33.3%; 44%), TILL-90 DAS (37.2%; 47.2%), seed/spike (8%; 10%), 1000-grain weight (7.8%; 12.2%), and protein content (23.3%; and 33%) when compared with N0. Furthermore, the application of N75 and N150 improved GY (72.1%; 142.6%), SY (61.1%; 110.6%), BY (65.5%; 123%), and HI by 4.4% and 9%, respectively, over N0. Nitrogen addition (N75 and N150) also significantly increased total nitrogen uptake (104.7%; 205.6%), respectively, compared to N0. The correlation analysis revealed a positive association among most of the crop parameters. Overall, our research results suggest that the cultivars 'HD 3249' and 'HD 3117' have the potential to be effective options for improving N utilization efficiency, grain yield, and GYEI in North-West India.
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Key words
grain yield, nitrogen inputs, nitrogen use efficiency, wheat cultivars
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