Radiation use efficiency (RUE) is considered critical for calculation of crop yield. The crop productivity can be improved by increasing the interception of solar radiation and maintaining higher RUE for plants. Irrigation water and nitrogen (N) supply are the main limiting factors for RUE in maize (Zea mays L.) across the semi-arid environments. Field experiments were conducted during two consecutive growing seasons (2009–2010) to optimize RUE in relation to N application timings and rates with varying irrigation water management practices. In experiment 1, three N application timings were made, while in experiment 2, three possible water management practices were used. In both experiments, five N rates (100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 kg N ha−1) were applied to evaluate the effects of irrigation water and N on cumulative photosynthetic active radiation (PARi), dry matter RUE (RUEDM), and grain yield RUE (RUEGY). The results demonstrated that cumulative PARi and RUEs were not constant during the plant growth under varying the nutrients. The water and N significantly influenced cumulative PARi and RUEs during the both growing seasons. In experiment 1, the maximum cumulative PARi was observed by application of 250 kg N ha−1 in three splits (1/3 N at V2, 1/3 N at V16, and 1/3 N at R1 stage), and the highest RUEDM was achieved by the application of 300 kg N ha−1. However, the highest RUEGY was observed by application of 250 kg N ha−1. In experiment 2, the maximum cumulative PARi was attained at normal irrigation regime with 250 kg N ha−1, while the highest RUEDM and RUEGY were recorded at normal irrigation regime with the application of 300 kg N ha−1. The regression analysis showed significant and positive correlation of RUEGY with grain yield. Therefore, optimum water and N doses are important for attaining higher RUE, which may enhance maize grain yield semi-arid environment; this may be considered in formulating good agricultural practices for the environmental conditions resembling to those of this study.
- Cumulative photosynthetic active radiation
- Radiation use efficiency