Precision Abiotic Stress Management Strategies for High Yielding & Biofortified Wheat Grains

Created on 12 Jul 2017

Ugur Sevilmis

Research Institute


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Precision Abiotic Stress Management Strategies for High Yielding & Biofortified Wheat Grains

Acronym: ABIOTIC


The project targets to scale up different techniques at the field level to reduce the nutrient deficit and high temperature stress that occurs at leaf level in the daily cycle of photosynthesis. This is expected to translate into increased yield, improved water use efficiency and biofortified grains with nutritional enhancement. Abiotic stresses have big impacts on plant yields under field conditions. Under natural conditions, combinations of two or more stresses are common in many agricultural areas of the world. Drought, high temperature and nutrient stress are mojor barriers to improve yields. Mineral nutrition is one of the main factors that influence plant growth and water relations. Besides, biofortification requirement is another global problem. Precision techniques might be a solution for these problems especially when targeting stress sensors (photosynthesis) in plants. This project contains 3 complementary workpackages using all absorbing tissues (roots and leaves) to manage these abiotic stresses. First workpackage is "Precision nutrient management by pulverizator sprayer systems", second workpackage is "Precision high temperature and nutrient management by sprinklers/linear irrigation systems" and third workpackage is "Precision biofertilization by mycorrhizaes". In the first workpackage, foliar fertilization will be used to eliminate the need of water to transport fertilizers to the leaves through the root and supply additional nutrients to the photosynthesis when demand is highest intraday. In the second workpackage, Sprinkler/Linear irrigation system will be used to cool and precision fertilization of the leaves by using limited amount of water. In the third workpackage, Mycorrhizas will be used to increase root nutrient uptake efficiency. Yield, protein, iron and zinc concentrations of grains will be measured and economic analysis will be conducted. Photosynthetic changes will be measured by instruments. Demonstrations will be conducted in third year. Target is to design precision techniques for high yielding biofortified wheat grain production under drought or fertile conditions which is suitable to both African and European conditions. Winter period is the most promising agricultural period for agriculture in Africa. Reason to choose wheat is to escape from adverse conditions of summer period and meet mild conditions of winter conditions to increase yields especially in Africa but also in Mediterranean climate.

Workpack (Strategy) 1:

Precision Nutrient Management by Pulverizator Sprayer Systems Foliar nutritioning requires very low amount of water to deliver nutrients to leaves compared to soil fertilization. Plants evaporate approximatly 2 tons of water to uptake 1 kg nitrogen (N) from soil. But, 60 litres of water might be used to apply same amount of N from foliage. At the same time, foliar feeding is 6 times more effective for N, 4 times for Boron, 30 times for Manganese, 20 times for Zinc, 20 times for Phosphorous and 14 times for Molybdenum compared to feeding from the soil (Dixon, 2003). Rhytmic nutrient uptakes occures during several days on foliage which increases with light and temperature after spraying leaves which will be used to increase daily photosynthetic levels intraday. Also obtaining high level of nutrient circulation in floem by these applications may result with protein, Fe and Zn biofortified grains. Root absorbed nutrients can not be transported to the leaves at a rate compatible with accelerated photosynthesis during the day due to the passage of these nutrients through many biomembranes. These absorbed nutrients accumulate in the vacoules and in other organelles during these passages and may not reach adequate concentrations in target tissue solutes when demand is highest intraday. The nutrients content of leaves fluctuates within the day. The contents of N, Mn, Fe and Zn of the leaves are generally high in early in days. P, K, Ca, Mg and S concentrations of leaves show irregular fluctuations throughout the day. Boron and Cu are so stable (Mundorf et al., 2015). Stressors alter biochemical and physiological oscillations and disrupt coordination (Erdei et al., 1998). In the first and second year of the project, wheat cropped different parcels will be sprayed foliarly with two different formulations of "NPK+Mg+S+Micronutrients" fertilizers at 0, 3, 6 and 9 application frequency at 1% and total nutrient concentrations under two different amounts of soil applied nutrient (conventional and half of conventional).

Workpack (Strategy) 2:

Precision High Temperature & Nutrient Management by Sprinkler/Linear Irrigation Systems In this workpack, it is aimed to manage both high temperature and nutrient stress by using small amount of irrigation water applied frequently to upper plant canopy containing nutrients in it to cool leaves at midday and for precision fertilization. This will include much more applied water compared to pulverizator application part of the Project. Applications will be spreaded to hot days mainly to post anthesis stage. Sprayed solutions will also contain fungusites. Strategy 2 will be tested in the second and third year of the project and will use strategy 1 results. Correct fertilizer formulation, required fertilizer amount, fertilizer application frequency (low/medium/high) infos will come from Strategy 1 trials. This design is targeting to hold "linear irrigation trials" in easy to manage range.

Theory of Change

Long term goal is to establish a core research network for current and future projects to do important reinforcement for solving the hunger problem of world. Extraordinary yield levels are needed to reach this target; need to double world average crop yields till 2050. This high yield levels might be obtained by synergy between breeders and agronomists, not by one. Our team is including breeders and agronomist from 4 countries as a starter network which may be improved in time. This project is focusing on agronomic part of the need for high yield increases. Especially focusing on photosynthesis. This project of this consorsium is focused on reducing the effects of multiple abiotic stresses on photosynthesis to prevent significant yield reductions from potential yield levels of crops. We are targeting to reduce nutrient, high temperature and drought stresses on photosynthesis and increase biofotification as a by-product of this. Changes will be measured based on changes in yields, photosynthesis and biofortification levels.


Dixon, R. C. (2003). Foliar fertilization improves nutrient use efficiency. Fluid Journal, 11, 22-23.

Erdei, L., Szegletes, Z., Barabás, K. N., Pestenácz, A., Fülöp, K., Kalmár, L., ... & Dér, A. (1998). Environmental stress and the biological clock in plants: changes of rhythmic behavior of carbohydrates, antioxidant enzymes and stomatal resistance by salinity. Journal of Plant Physiology, 152(2), 265-271.

Mundorf, T., Wortmann, C., Shapiro, C., & Paparozzi, E. (2015). Time of Day Effect on Foliar Nutrient Concentrations in Corn and Soybean. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 38(14), 2312-2325.

Smith SE, Read DJ (2008) Mycorrhizal Symbiosis, Edition 3. Academic Press and Elsevier London.

 Plant Health
 Technology Transfer
 Water Resource Management
 Climate Sciences
 Industrial Design

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