J. Agronomy & Crop Science (2012) ISSN 0931-2250
2011 Blackwell Verlag GmbH, 198 (2012) 173–184
Drought and salinity reduce crop productivity especially in arid and semi-arid regions, and finding a crop which produces yield under these adverse conditions is therefore very important. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) is such a crop. Hence, a study was conducted in field lysimeters to investigate the effect of salinity and soil–drying on radiation use efficiency, yield and water productivity of quinoa. Quinoa was exposed to five salinity levels (0, 10, 20, 30 and 40 dS m-1) of irrigation water from flower initiation onwards. During the seed-filling phase the five salinity levels were divided between two levels of irrigation, either full irrigation (FI; 95 % of field capacity) or non-irrigated progressive drought (PD). The intercepted photosynthetically active radiation was hardly affected by salinity (8 % decrease at 40 dS m-1) and did not differ significantly between FI and PD. Radiation use efficiency of dry matter was similar between salinity levels and between FI and PD. In line with this, no negative effect of severe salinity and soil–drying on total dry matter could be detected. Salinity levels between 20 and 40 dS m-1 significantly reduced the seed yield by ca. 33 % compared with 0 dS m)1 treatment owing to a 15–30 % reduction in seed number per m2, whereas the seed yield of PD was 8 % less than FI. Consequently, nitrogen harvested in seed was decreased by salinity although the total N-uptake was increased. Both salinity and drought increased the water productivity of dry matter. Increasing salinity from 20 to 40 dS m-1 did not further decrease the seed number per m2 and seed yield, which shows that quinoa (cv. Titicaca) acclimated to saline conditions when exposed to salinity levels between 20 and 40 dS m-1.