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Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and Chlorophyll Content for Precision Nitrogen Management in Durum Wheat Cultivars under Semi-Arid Conditions





To impart sustainability to modern intensive farming systems, environmental pollution caused by nitrogenous fertilizers needs to be reduced by optimizing their doses. To estimate the grain yield and nutrtional quallity of wheat, the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and chlorophyll content (SPAD) are potential screening tools to identify the N deficiency and screen out the promising cultivars. The two-year field study was comprised of five levels of nitrogen (N) (control, 50, 100, 150 and 200 kg N ha−1) and two durum wheat genotypes (Sena and Svevo). The experimental design was split-plot, in which N levels were placed in the main plots, while wheat genotypes were arranged in sub-plots. To predict the yield and quality traits, NDVI and SPAD values recorded at heading, anthesis and milky growth stages were taken as response variables. The results revealed that N fertilization significantly influenced SPAD and NDVI attributed traits of durum wheat, except NDVI at milky stage (NDVI-M) during the first year. The maximum value of NDVI was recorded by 150 kg N ha−1, while control treatment gave the minimum value. The grain yield was increased with the increasing dose of N up to 100 kg N ha−1 (4121 kg ha−1), and thereafter, it was declined with further increased N levels. However, the variation between genotypes was not significant, except NDVI and SPAD values at the milky stage. The genotype Svevo had the highest NDVI values at all growth stages, while the genotype Sena recorded the maximum SPAD values during both years. Similarly, N levels significantly influenced the quality traits (protein, wet gluten, starch test weight and Zeleny sedimentation) of both genotypes. The highly significant relationship of SPAD and NDVI with the grain yield and yield attributes showed their reliability as indicators for determining N deficiency and selection of superior wheat genotypes for ensuring food security under climate change scenario.

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