Salt stress and deficit irrigation effects on Kochia (kochia scoparia L. Schrad) production in summer cropping masoume salehi1, mohammad kafi2 and alireza kiani1

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Salt stress and deficit irrigation effects on Kochia (KOCHIA SCOPARIA L. SCHRAD) production in summer cropping


  1. Agricultural and Natural Resources Research Center researchers of Golestan, Iran

  2. Professor of Department of Agronomy, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran


In order to studying the effects of salt and drought stress on biomass and seed production of Kochia, six experiments with 1.5, 7, 14, 21, 28 and 35 dS/m of saline water ( drainage water) was conducted individually. In each experiment three levels of deficit irrigation (25, 75 and 125% of water requirement) was applied based on randomized completely block design with three replications in Mazrae Nemoneh Research Station, Golestan Province , in north of Iran in 2008. The result of combined analysis showed that saline water had significantly effect on biomass and seed yield, lateral stem number, plant height and stem dry weight. Leaf dry weight and biomass production was affected by water quality and quantity significantly. There was no any significant difference between water quality and quantity. Effect of saline water was not significant up to 7 dS/m in any growth and morphological traits of Kochia and saline water threshold tolerance of this mesohalophyte (Kochia scoparia) in this research was 7 dS/m and 50% reduction of plant dry weight was reached at 38.16 ± 3.53 dS/m. Water productivity (WP) based on seed yield reduced with increasing salinity and volume of water application. The highest WP was observed at 7dS/m and 25% water use and the lowest WP was calculated at the highest water application and salinity (125% and 35 dS/m) of saline water, respectively.

Key words: Biomass, Drought stress, Kochia scoparia, Salt stress, Seed yield.


Salinisation of land resources is a major impediment to their optimal utilization in Iran. About 34 million ha, including 4·1 million ha of the irrigated land, are salt-affected in Iran as the consequence of naturally occurring phenomena and anthropogenic activities. The annual economic losses due to salinisation in the country exceed US$ 1 billion (Qadir et al., 2008). Saline water can be effectively used to grow some salt tolerant crops (Letey, 1993).

Domestication of salt tolerant plants which grow naturally in saline land could be introduced as new crops cultivated under environmental stresses induced by salinity and aridity. Several researchers showed that Kochia scoparia produces high biomass in saline-sodic soils or saline-sodic irrigation water (Green et al., 1986; Qadir & Oster, 2004; Steppuhn et al., 2005). Kochia has an extended tolerance to a variety of soils and can be established very easily in saline, alkaline, neutral, acidic soils where other plants are unable to sustain easily (Miyamoto et al., 1992). In addition to its halotolerant, because of its deep rooting systems, Kochia is exceptionally drought tolerant (Madrid et al., 1996). The object of this study is the evaluation of saline water and drought stress on production of Kochia.


Field studies were conducted during the summer 2008 at the Mazrae Nemoneh Research Station of Golestan province, Iran. The soil consisted of 24% clay, 14% sand, 62% silt. The field was equipped with a sub-drainage system. Maximum temperature during summer was 42°C on 4th and 10th of September, 2008. Plants were sown in the first week of July and harvested on 26th October, 2008.

Kochia was sown as the second summer crop after harvesting of wheat at density of 20 plants/m2 . In order to achieve a homogenize establishment, The first two irrigations applied using good quality water. The experiment was conducted based on randomized completely block design with three replications and three levels of deficit irrigation (25, 75 and 125% of Field capacity based on non stress plotFC or water requirement??) in six levels of drainage saline waters (1.5, 7, 14, 21, 28 and 35 dS/m). Total water application (irrigation and rainfall) for each level of drought stress was 266.5, 330 and 489.8 mm, respectively. The amount of precipitation at this site during the whole growth period was 57.1 mm. The seeds origin was from Sabzevar city of Khorasan province. Sampling was conducted 100 days after planting for leaf dry weight (LDW), lateral stem number (SN), height (H), stem dry weight (SDW) and at ripening stage for seed yield (Y) and biomass (BIO) production. Soil sampling was done every month and mean EC of saturated soil extract was recorded. Water productivity was calculated based on seed yield per unit of applied water. Data were analyzed with SAS program.


Saline water imposed a significant effect on main stem height (H), lateral stem number (SN), stem dry weight (SDW), biomass (BIO), seed yield (Seed Y), leaf dry weight (LDW) and plant dry weight (PDW). Drought stress had significant effect on LDW and PDW. Interaction effect of salinity and drought stress was not significant (table 1).

Table1. Analysis of variance of height (H), lateral stem number (SN), stem dry weight (SDW), biomass (BIO), seed yield (seed Y), leaf dry weight (LDW) and plant dry weight (PDW) of Kochia




Seed Y








































Drought *Salinity


















** Significant at 1%, * 5% and ns non significant.

All growth parameters decreased significantly with increasing salinity but difference between 1.5 and 7 dS/m salinity was not significant. With increasing salinity from 7 dS/m significant reduction was observed in all traits. Deficit irrigation caused a significant reduction on LDW and PDW . At 35 dS/m salinity seed yield and PDW showed 50% and 47% reduction at 100 day after sowing, respectively. The highest dry matter production was measured at 7 dS/m. Plant height had 74% reduction at 35 dS/m compared to control(Table 2).

Table 2-Effect of drought and salt stress on height (H), lateral stem number (SN), stem dry weight (SDW), biomass (BIO), seed yield (seed Y), leaf dry weight (LDW) and plant dry weight (PDW) of Kochia

Saline water

H (cm)


SDW (g/m2)

BIO (g/m2)

Seed Y (g/m2)

LDW (g/m2)

PDW (g/m2)


123 a

42.83 a

1101.8 a

1346.7 a

333.34 a

678.21 a

1342.1 a


117.5 ab

39.52 ab

965.81 a

1352.5 a

306.49 ab

770.58 a

1393.9 a


113.7 bc

38.38 b

702.96 b

960.1 b

252.66 bc

567.87 bc

1193.9 ab


109 c

37.61 b

693.21 b

937.4 bc

249.26 bc

504.27 c

1017.4 bc


107.1 c

36 bc

612.71 b

733 bc

207.95 dc

445.62 c

1013.9 bc


91.1 d

32.55 c

546.01 b

705.1 c

167.5 d

441.56 c

883.1 c

deficit irrigation



38.4 a

796.85 a

904.24 b

246.4 a

507.2 b

1098.4 b


111.8 a

36.1 a

759.12 a

1101.9 a

260.9 a

498.9 b

1053.2 b


110.8 a

38.8 a

755.32 a

1011.2 ab

251.2 a

697.9 a

1270.4 a

Effect of drought stress caused a significant reduction only on LDW and PDW (Table 2). Kochia also showed remarkable tolerance to reduction of irrigation amount so that increase of irrigation interval from 7 to 14 days caused 25 percent yield reduction in arid climate of Birjand (Kafi and Al-Ahmadi , 2008).

Interaction effect of salinity and drought stress was not significant. The highest seed yield observed at 1.5 dS/m and 75% deficit irrigation and the highest plant dry weight harvested at 7 dS/m and 125% water application (Fig 1 and 2).

Fig 1- Interaction effect of application of different levels of saline drainage water and deficit irrigation on Plant Dry Weight (g/m2) of Kochia

Fig 2- Interaction effect of different levels of saline drainage water and deficit irrigation on Seed Yield (g/m2) of Kochia

Evaluation of salt accumulation in soil profile showed that soil salinity increased with using of saline water. The highest salt accumulation observed at 0-30 cm of top soil at all levels of salinity (Fig.3). For establishing of Kochia, adequate leaching water must be applied for good stand especially at 28 and 35 dS/m. Kafi and Al-Ahmadi (2008) showed that salinity up to 10 dS/m did not have a considerable effect on Kochia seed germination but passing this threshold germination percentage and rate decreased significantly and the extreme reduction occurred at 20 dS/m salinity.

Fig.3- Salt distribution in soil profile under cultivation of Kochia

In the same salinity the highest water productivity was observed at 25% water use. In non saline and drought stress water productivity was 6.04 kg mm-1 and at 25% water use and non saline it was 12.04 kg. mm-1 .. The lowest WP observed at 35 dS/m salinity and 125% water use, and it was 3.21 kg. mm-1 (Fig. 4). The highest WP observed at 7 dS/m and 25% of water use (12.49 kg. mm-1 ) and in this treatment 13% seed yield reduction observed in comparison with 1.5 dS/m and 75% water application. Using 7 dS/m of saline water and 25% of water requirement application will decrease cost of Kochia production with only 13% reduction of seed yield.

Fig. 4- Effect of different levels of saline drainage water and deficit irrigation on WP of Kochia

application, The highest seed yield was harvested at 1.5 dS/m with 75% of water requirement application and it decreased in both lower or higher water application (Fig 5). At highest level of salinity (35 dS/m) increasing water consumption had no effect on seed yield production but at 14, 21 and 28 dS/m treatments seed yield increased with increasing water use. Shani and Dudley (2001) evaluated rate of water application and salt stress on melon and corn and concluded that additional water did not compensate of adverse effects of salt stress. As the salinity of irrigation water increase, the effectiveness of quantity of water decreases, but the degree to which the quantity is diminished is dependent on the crop to be irrigated and the relative yield to be achieved (Letey, 1993). In this study, it seems that effect of additional water use on reducing negative effects of salt stress is depending on crop salt tolerance. Letey and Feng (2007) comprised corn and cotton and reported the same result. Kochia is so salt tolerant that only 50% seed yield reduction occurred at 35 dS/m of irrigation water (Salehi, et al., 2009) and 50% reduction of plant dry weight was calculated at 38.16 ± 3.53 dS/m.

Fig. 5-Seed yield production of Kochia as affected by different levels of saline drainage water and deficit irrigation.


Salinity stress beyond 7 dS/m imposed a significant negative effect on seed yield and dry matter production of Kochia but effect of drought stress was not significant for seed yield but had significant effect on dry matter production. Water productivity decreased with increasing salinity and deficit irrigation. The highest WP observed at 7 dS/m and 25% water use, in this treatment 13% reduction of seed yield observed compare to control. This approach is so useful for poor farmers who access to low quantity and quality soils and waters. Increasing water consumption at high salinity (35 dS/m) did not have any compensative effect on seed yield but increasing water use at lower salinity increased yield to some extent. Using saline water (28 and 35 dS/m) increased soil salinity after harvest and reduced emergence rate of Kochia for next season. Althought Kochia can tolerate high saline water but sustainable use of soil resources should be considered.


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