Legume Research

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Legume Research, volume 45 issue 2 (february) : 174-181

Impact of Foliar Spray of NPK and Zn on Soybean for Growth, Yield, Quality, Energetics and Carbon Footprint under Dryland Condition at Indore

Lalita Bhayal1, Aakash1,*, M.P. Jain2, Divya Bhayal3, Kamlesh Meena4
1Department of Agronomy, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, College of Agriculture, Indore-452 001, Madhya Pradesh, India.
2ICAR-All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Dryland Agriculture, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, College of Agriculture, Indore-452 001, Madhya Pradesh, India.
3Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, College of Agriculture, Indore-452 001, Madhya Pradesh, India.
4Krishi Vigyan Kendra, ICAR- Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Malhana, Deoria-274 506, Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • Submitted22-07-2021|

  • Accepted18-11-2021|

  • First Online 10-01-2022|

  • doi 10.18805/LR-4748

Cite article:- Bhayal Lalita, Aakash, Jain M.P., Bhayal Divya, Meena Kamlesh (2022). Impact of Foliar Spray of NPK and Zn on Soybean for Growth, Yield, Quality, Energetics and Carbon Footprint under Dryland Condition at Indore . Legume Research. 45(2): 174-181. doi: 10.18805/LR-4748.

Background: Dryland is characterised by drought/dry spell (s) of 10 to 15 days and is the main reason for decline in soybean production. The aim of this study was to develop a strategy of drought amelioration by using foliar sprays and enhancement of yield, quality, energetics and carbon footprint.

Methods: A field experiment was carried out at Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, College of Agriculture, Indore, (M.P.) during 2017-18 under spilt-plot design having two main plot treatments viz., foliar application at dry spell (F1), foliar application after dry spell (F2) and seven sub plot treatments i.e. different variants of foliar sprays (DVFS). Different growth, yield, quality, energetic and carbon footprint traits were recorded. The data were analyzed using standard statistical procedures.

Result: The highest growth, yield, quality and energetic parameters were recorded for F1 as compared to F2. In case of DVFS, foliar application of water soluble complex fertilizer 19:19:19 (NPK) @ 0.5% + 0.5% ZnSO4 (T4) produced maximum values for growth, energetics, carbon footprint, oil (22.5%) and protein (43.1%) content as well as produced maximum yield.

Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merril] is an important oil seed and protein crop. It is considered the “Golden Bean”. Madhya Pradesh is known as the “soybean state” of India, comprising 47.8% area and 48.4% of the total national production (DACFW, 2018). It ranks first amongst oilseed crops in the world and contributes nearly 25 per cent of world’s total oil production (Basediya et al., 2020).
Drought is a primary constraint to global crop production and global climate change is likely to increase the risk of frequent drought, especially in rain-fed and dryland agriculture. Soybean being a dominant Kharif season crop in India its cultivation corresponds with aberrant weather conditions especially rainfall variability. The aberrant nature of rainfall is often faced in dryland regions and reduces crop productivity because of untimely onset of and\or early withdrawal of monsoon and associated dry spell (s) at any stage in the crop season (Verma and Singh, 2017). Intermediated season i.e. early, mid and terminal droughts are often caused by prolonged dry spell(s) due to breaks in monsoon.
Under drought stress, reduced nutrient availability is one of the most important factors limiting plant growth. Foliar application offers numerous advantages, including satisfying the nutritional need of crop grown in moisture deficient soils in rainfed condition (Pranjit et al., 2015). Foliar fertilisation provides the advantages of low application rates, homogeneous fertilizer dispersion and fast nutritional response. Hiwale (2015) advocated that the significant increment in growth, yield and quality parameters of soybean were observed due to application of KNO3 @ 1.0% at 45 and 60 DAS. Foliar application of NPK improves the plant’s capacity to synthesize, store and transport nutrients. Soybean yield and protein content rise when zinc is applied to the leaves (Kumar et al., 2013). Berglund (2002) noted that foliar application of zinc at vegetative growth stage increased soybean yield. Foliar application of zinc also decreased the adverse effects of drought on seed and biological yield of soybean (Kobraee and Shamsi, 2011). Zinc foliar application decreased negative impact of drought and increases quantity and quality of the resulting produce (Mohammad et al., 2015).
Growing energy needs of making chemical fertilizers or other inputs and energy used in various agricultural operations necessitates the development of a production technology that consumes less energy input while producing more energy as output (Aakash et al., 2019). There is a closer relationship between energy, carbon (C) and environment, since any activities/operations in crop system needs energy in terms of inputs i.e. fuel, fertilizers etc. and every input has some carbon emission (direct or indirect) which interact with environment and determined the economic and environmental sustainability of that system (Navaz et al., 2017). Energy, water and carbon are important inputs in the modern agricultural production systems and, therefore, the inter-dependence of these and crop production needs to be evaluated for designing an energy, water and carbon efficient cropping system. The input-output relationship of soybean production systems varies with total biomass productivity, nutrient management and diverse tillage practices. The extreme dependence on fossil fuels (diesel) and other non-renewable energy sources and increasing emission of GHGs have shifted the focus on the judicious use of renewable energy. Thus, there is a need to assess the energy use efficiency and C-footprint of crop production systems.
The hypothesis was that the NPK and Zn have an important role in water regulation in crops. Their foliar spray may give good response under drought leading to higher crop production, varying energetics patterns and carbon footprint. Thus, the present investigation was aimed to evaluate the growth, yield, rain water use efficiency, energy use patterns and carbon footprint of seven different types of concentrations and combination of NPK and Zn applied at and after relieving of drought.
The experiment was conducted at Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, College of Agriculture, Indore, (M.P.) during 2017-18. Experimental soil was predominantly clayey in texture, slightly alkaline in reaction (pH 7.70) and low in organic carbon (0.40%) and available nitrogen (182 kg ha-1), medium in available phosphorus (14.10 kg ha-1) and high in available potash (565 kg ha-1).
During the crop period three dry spell of 11-15 days i.e. first from 28 June to 12 July 2017, second from 1 to 11 August and third from 24 September to 7 October whereas two events, of high intensity rainfall i.e. more than 50 mm rains in 24 hours (14 July 2017: 55.6 mm and 28 august 2017) were recorded. The third dry spell came before harvesting. Table 1 showed dates in which foliar application of fertilizers was done.

Table 1: Schedule of foliar application of fertilizer during the experimentation.

The experiment consisted of 14 treatment combinations. It was laid out in a split plot design with 3 replications. The experiment consisted of two main treatments i.e. foliar spray timing (FST) viz., F1: foliar application at dry spell, F2: foliar application after dry spell and seven sub treatments i.e. different variants of foliar spray (DVFS) viz., T1: solution of urea 1%, T2: solution of urea 2%, T3: solution of water soluble complex fertilizer 19:19:19 (NPK) 0.5%, T4: solution of water soluble complex fertilizer 19:19:19 (NPK) 0.5%+0.5% zinc sulphate (ZnSO4.7H2O), T5: solution of 0.5% ZnSO4.7H2O, T6: water spray and T7: control.
Chlorophyll content was measured with “Soil and plant analysis development” (SPAD)-502 meter by punching the leaves in the eye of SPAD meter of tagged plants. The photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) intercepted was measured by canopy analyser. By holding the knob like structure direct solar radiation was determined and the transmittance solar radiation was measured by holding the lengthy tube-like structure under the plant canopy inside the experimental plot. Thus, the intercepted PAR was calculated by subtracting the transmittance solar radiation from incident solar radiation.
The energetic was determined by using standard equation (ISA, 2014). The total carbon output of the crop was computed by multiplying crop yield with an average C-content of biomass (~44% on a dry weight basis) and the total C-equivalent (Ce)/C-input was computed by multiplying the respective input used for raising the crop with their emission coefficient as per West and Marland (2002) and Lal (2004). The C-footprint of dryand soybean production system was done as per Jat et al., (2019).The data were analysed using Statistical Tool for Agricultural Research (STAR) software; while the significance of differences between means values were determined using Tukey’s honest aignificant difference (HSD) at 1% and 5% levels.
Growth parameters
Maximum plant height (52.89 cm) was recorded by F1 (Table 2) under FST which was 3.7% more than that for F2. For DVFS the significantly higher plant height (55.12 cm) was noted in treatment T2- Urea @ 2%. The increase in plant height in T2 compared to the control was 14.8%. This might be due to the effect of nitrogen, since nitrogen increases cell division and elongation. Mona and Azab (2017) observed that the foliar application of urea increased plant height of soybean. F1 posed its significant effect on LAI as compared to F2 by producing index value of 3.00 (Table 2). Foliar spray during the dry spells helps in maintenance of turgor pressure of leaves which might be the resulted higher LAI. Shabbir et al., (2015) reported that foliar application of NPK during water stress condition increased water relation and maintained higher turgor. While in DVFS, the significantly higher value of LAI (3.18) was obtained for treatment T4. The order of LAI under various foliar spray treatments was T4> T3>T2> T1>T5> T6>T7. This result was in line with Ling and Silberbush (2002) who reported that foliar spray of NPK showed tremendous increment in leaf area.

Table 2: Effect of different foliar sprays and their timings on the growth attributes of soybean.

F1 accumulated significantly higher dry matter (20.08 g plant-1) over F2. This indicates that foliar spraying during dry spells enable plants to do their metabolic function normally, resulting in more dry matter production. Amongst DVFS, the highest dry matter (21.94 g plant-1) was observed in T4 (Table 2). This finding was supported by Haq and Mallarino (2000) who concluded that the growth parameters were significantly higher for foliar spray of NPK which results in increased total dry matter in soybean. According to Leach and Hameleers (2001) zinc is also crucial in the formation of higher dry matter. The relative growth rate (RGR) was not significantly influenced by FST, while DVFS had exerted its significant effect. Significantly superior RGR (0.0147 g g-1 day-1) was attained by T4. The increase in RGR over control was 13.5%, 19.7%, 23.3%, 39.4%, 9.0% and 4.1% for T1, T2, T3, T4, T5 and T6, respectively. This might be due to adequate supply of macro (NPK) and micro (Zn) nutrients via foliar spray which promotes faster crop growth. Gowthami et al., (2018) observed that application of macro and micronutrient through foliar spray increased relative growth rate as compared to control. The non-significant response of FST to RGR specified that the good rainfall occurred between 60 and 85 DAS has led to sufficient moisture in soil, thus, during these period relative crop growth rate increased at constant rate. Sharma et al., (2019) also reported non-significant response of foliar spray during and after drought stress.
Photosynthetically active radiation and chlorophyll content
Due to varied LAI, the PAR intercepted also differed significantly. F1 and T4 intercepted maximum PAR [995.6 and 1002.8 (µ mol m-2 s-1)], respectively (Table 3). The PAR intercepted by DVFS stood in the order of T4>T3>T2>T1> T5>T6>T7. Significantly more PAR intercepted by F1 and T4 resulted from taller plant height and more leaf area index. The photosynthetic rate was significantly higher in soybean sprayed with NPK 19:19:19 @ 1.0% reported by Anjum et al., (2013). In this study, F1 recorded significantly higher (37.9) SPAD values than these for F2. This specifies that foliar application during dry spells provides nutrients quickly and helps in formation of chlorophyll. T4 had significant more SPAD values 40.5 as compared to control. Amanmmula et al., (2014) observed that water soluble NPK fertilizer significantly increased the PAR interception and net photosynthetic rate because of higher chlorophyll production and leaf area.

Table 3: Effect of different foliar sprays and their application timings on PAR, chlorophyll content, seed yield and quality parameters of soybean.

Seed yield
Different foliar spray treatments produced varying response on plant height, LAI, dry matter accumulation that may have brought differences in seed yield. F1 produced maximum seed yield (1075 kg ha-1) compared to that for F2. The highest seed yield was reported by T4 (1193 kg ha-1) (Fig 2) which was statistically superior to T1, T6 and T7 and was similar to the other remaining treatments.T4 produced 45% more seed yield compared to the control. F1 and T4 also had maximum straw yields of 2650 and 2872 kg ha-1. Malik et al., (2015) observed that significant increase in yield was because of application of zinc + urea compared to the control. Mannan (2014) also stated that highest values for seed and straw yields were recorded for the NPK and Mg sprays during drought. Choudhary et al., (2014) discovered that foliar Zn spraying increased seed yield.

Fig 2: Effect of foliar spray and its timing on seed and straw yield of soybean.

Protein and oil content
Variation in seed yield under different treatments also produced significant differences in oil and protein content (Table 3). F1 recorded significantly higher oil and protein content than these for F2. T4 yielded significantly more oil as compared to T6 and T7. Maximum protein content noticed by T4 (43.1%) and minimum by T7. Increase in protein content might be due to zinc which is important structural element of protein synthesizing enzymes (Ravi et al., 2008). Zambre et al., (2017) found that foliar spray of zinc enhances the level of soluble protein and oil content under water limited conditions and also mitigated adverse effect of dry spell.
Maximum energy input was observed in T2 (6452 MJ ha-1) because nitrogen production has huge energy requirements, while T7 (control) recorded the lowest energy input consumption (Table 4) since it does not use any special treatment/input material. All the energetic parameters were significantly influenced by FST and DVFS. The highest output energy was received from T4 (53440 MJ ha-1) measure as seed yield. Similarly, maximum net energy was also recorded by T4 (47272 MJ ha-1) because it has less input demand and more output energy. Likewise, the energy efficiency, energy productivity and energy intensity in economic terms were significantly higher in T4, however, the specific energy was significantly higher in T7 (7.84 MJ kg-1). Energetics findings of this study are similar to those of Navaz et al., (2017).

Table 4: Effects of different foliar sprays and their application timingson energetics of soybean production.

Carbon footprint
Carbon is a main integral part of the agriculture production system. C-budgeting of FST did not differ significantly (Table 5). The maximum and minimum C-inputs were consumed by T4 (160.9 kg Ce ha-1) and T7 (140.6 kg Ce ha-1). The chemical fertilizers accounted for more amount of C-share (Jat et al., 2019). It might the reason that T4 and T7 have maximum and minimum C-input consumption. Maximum C-output was produced by treatment T4 (1788.4 kg Ce ha-1). The trend followed for C-output was T4>T3>T2>T5>T1>T6>T7. Kumar et al., (2020) observed that more biomass production was the prime reason for maximum C-output. We also observed similar results in the present study. T3 had the highest C-efficiency (12.01) followed by T4. The sustainability of agricultural production systems mainly depends on their C-footprints. The C-footprints of soybean production system is highly dependent on ability of the crop to convert the nutrients into grains. The treatment T3 recorded high carbon sustainability index value (CSI) (11.01) whereas the lowest CSI was observed in T7. Similarly, T3 had more carbon efficiency ratio (CER) compared to other treatments. This might be due to good yield and low C-input consumption under T3. These results from the present experimentation are in close agreement to those reported by Rakesh (2020).

Table 5: Effects of different foliar sprays and their application timings on carbon footprint of soybean production.

FST were recorded equal cost i.e. Rs 20218 ha-1 while in DVFF; the maximum cost (Rs 20782 ha-1) was recorded by T4 followed by T3 (Rs 20625 ha-1). T4 achieved maximum gross income (Rs 35790 ha-1) and net income (Rs 15008 ha-1) (Table 6). Singh et al., (2018) reported that foliar application of water soluble fertilizer 19:19:19 (NPK) @ 2% in soybean gain maximum net returns. Table 6 again confirmed that F1 and T4 fetched highest values of B:C ratio i.e. 1.60 and 1.72 respectively.

Table 6: Effects of different foliar spray and their application timings on economics of soybean.

This study showed that foliar spray of water-soluble complex fertilizer 19:19:19 (NPK) @0.5% + 0.5% ZnSO4 at dry spell is a good drought mitigation technology to promote crop growth sufficiently enough. It proved sound for growth, yield, quality, energy and carbon footprint beneficial to dryland farmers.

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