International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security
Effect of Nutrient Seed Priming
Muhammad Arif1, Mohammad Tariq Jan1, Abdul Rashid2 and Khalid Nawab3
Cereal production is widely limited by poor stand establishment and nutrient deficiencies. Particularly in drought-prone environment, cereal germination tends to be irregular and can extend over long periods. The resulting poor crop stands leave gaps in the canopy, which are rapidly filled by vigorously growing weeds, compete with the crop plants for light, water and the limiting nutrients. Thus accelerating and homogenizing the germination process is a prerequisite for a good crop establishment and helps to increase yield eventually. Seed priming (soaking of seed in water and drying back to storage moisture until use) has been shown to improve emergence, early seedling growth and crop establishment. Crop production is affected by a low chemical availability of phosphorus (P) and zinc (Zn). Especially during the early growth stages, a lack of P and Zn retards seedling growth, rendering the young plantlets particularly sensitive to the frequently encountered dry spells. A rapid establishment of healthy seedlings and a sufficient supply with P and Zn are prerogative to reduce the risk of crop failure. Nutrient priming has been proposed as a novel technique that combines the positive effects of seed priming with an improved nutrient supply. This experiment was conducted in pots at the Agricultural Research Farm of NWFP Agricultural University, Peshawar during spring 2005. Seed of maize cultivar ‘Azam’ were primed in 1% P, 2% P, 1% P + 2% Zn or 2% P + 2% Zn solutions for 12 h. The control treatment was dry seed. Dry seed took 10 days to reach 50% emergence. Water soaked seed reached 50% emergence five days after seeding, advancing the earliness of emergence by five days as compared to dry seed. Improved emergence (%) was noted in water soaked seed followed by seed primed in 2% P+2% Zn and 1% P solutions as compared to dry seed. Water soaked and nutrient primed seeds produced superior seedling fresh and dry weights as compared to dry seed. It is concluded that water or nutrient priming can be used as an effective low cost tool to accelerate and improve emergence and early growth of maize.