Though water deficit and salinity effects on plants have similarities, they are physiologically different. This motivated us to separately explore the effects of salinity and water deficit on water consumption, yield, and some plant parameters for maize (Zea mays L., var. SC704). Greenhouse experiments were conducted during two seasons. In one experiment, maize was cultivated in wet soil (matric potential of − 10 kPa), and the irrigation water salinity was varied between treatments (osmotic potentials up to − 336 kPa). In a parallel experiment, five water deficit levels were maintained by irrigating with water to accomplish the same daily water uptake as in the salinity treatments. The experiments were conducted in pots with a randomized design and four replicates. Salinity and water deficit stress significantly affected yield and other plant parameters. However, root dry matter in autumn was not significant. We observed a profound effect of evaporative demand on most of the plant parameters and water use, such as water use efficiency (WUE). For same water use rate, the values of osmotic and matric potential were different. In spring season, the ratios of matric to osmotic potential were 0.25, 0.46, 0.44, and 0.43 in corresponding D1, D2, D3, and D4 water deficit and S1, S2, S3, and S4 salinity treatments. For autumn season, these ratios were 0.26, 0.36, 0.34, and 0.36. We concluded crop models that lump water deficit and salinity (additively or multiplicatively) to predict yields can result in inappropriate predictions.
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Soil water retention curve
- ECsw :
Electrical conductivity of soil solution (dS m−1)
- ECe :
Electrical conductivity of saturated paste (dSm−1)
- ECiw :
Electrical conductivity of irrigation water (dSm−1)
- S :
- D :
Water deficit treatment
Water use efficiency (kg m−3)
- Y :
- T :
Actual transpiration or plant water uptake (m3)
Total water use (m3)
Soil water content (m3 m−3)
Root dry matter (kg)
Plant height (cm)
Stem diameter (mm)
Osmotic potential (kPa)
Matric potential (kPa)
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The authors would like to thank the University of Tehran for the financial support of this study. The first author appreciates financial support for a sabathical visit at Wageningen University.
This research is partly financed (contract 14299 Water Nexus) by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Bazrafshan, A., Shorafa, M., Mohammadi, M.H. et al. Comparison of the individual salinity and water deficit stress using water use, yield, and plant parameters in maize. Environ Monit Assess 192, 448 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-020-08423-x
- Abiotic stresses
- Water uptake
- Evaporative demand
- Root system