‘On-farm’ seed priming with zinc in chickpea and wheat in Pakistan
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- Harris, D., Rashid, A., Miraj, G. et al. Plant Soil (2008) 306: 3. doi:10.1007/s11104-007-9465-4
A series of on-station trials was implemented between 2002 and 2006 to assess the response of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and chickpea (Cicer arietinum) to zinc (Zn) added by soaking seeds (priming) in solutions of ZnSO4 before sowing. Wheat seed was primed for 10 h in 0.3% Zn and chickpea for 6 h in 0.05% Zn. Seed treatments increased the seed concentration in wheat from 27 to 470 mg/kg and in chickpea from 49 to 780 mg/kg. Priming wheat seeds with 0.3% Zn significantly increased the mean shoot dry mass, Zn concentration and Zn uptake of 15-day-old seedlings relative to non-primed controls and seeds primed with water alone. Using 0.4% Zn further increased shoot Zn concentration but depressed shoot dry mass to the level of the non-primed control. In seven trials, mean grain yield of wheat was significantly increased from 2.28 to 2.42 t/ha (6%) by priming with water alone and to 2.61 t/ha (14%) by priming with 0.3% Zn. Mean grain yield of chickpea in seven trials was increased significantly from 1.39 to 1.65 t/ha (19%) by priming seeds with 0.05% Zn. The effect of priming chickpea seeds with water was intermediate (1.49 t/ha) and not statistically separable from the non-primed and zinc-primed treatments. Increased grain yield due to priming in both crops was associated with increases in total biomass but there was no significant effect of priming on harvest index. In addition to increasing yield, priming seeds with Zn also significantly increased grain zinc concentration, by 12% in wheat (mean of three trials) and by 29% in chickpea (one trial) and the total amount of Zn taken up by the grain (by 27% in wheat and by 130% in chickpea). Using ZnSO4 to prime seeds was very cost-effective, with net benefit-to-cost ratios of 75 for wheat and 780 for chickpea.