Effects of the Addition of Biomimetic Catalyst on Wheat Trials

A very innovative part of the MESCOSAGR project is the introduction of a soil management practice comprising the soil amendment with a biomimetic catalyst. This practice previews a stabilization and/or improvement of soil organic carbon content by the in situ photo-polymerization of the humic soil fraction (Piccolo et al. 2005; Smejkalova et al. 2006; Gelsomino et al. 2010).

Field results indicate that the treatments with the iron-porphyrin catalyst (CAT) had no effect in Napoli plots on total biomass (Table 3.9) and grain yield. Harvest index was significantly reduced by the Fe-porphyrin treatment only in 2007. The number of kernels per spike and the average weight of kernels did not change in relation to treatment. Nitrogen content of straw was larger in CAT at harvest

Table 3.9 Wheat productive results at the Napoli site

Main factors and interaction

Spikes per m2

(number)

Total biomass (ton ha-1)

Grain yield

(%)

Kernel weight (mg)

Kernels per spike (number)

Treatment

CAT

258.4b

9.01

2.25b

25.8

54.0

20.5

NO-CAT

310.9a

9.51

2.99a

31.1

54.3

19.9

Significance

0.001

ns

0.001

ns

ns

ns

Year

2006

363.5a

3.96c

1.45c

31.9a

50.4b

7.6b

2007

194.8c

9.98b

2.50b

25.2c

53.9ab

27.8a

2008

295.7b

13.84a

3.91a

28.3ab

58.1a

25.2a

Significance

0.001

0.001

0.001

0.004

0.019

0.001

Year x Treatment

2006 CAT

386.7a

4.53

1.69cd

32.8a

54.9ab

7.7

NO-CAT

340.3a

3.39

1.20d

31.0a

45.9b

7.5

2007 CAT

144.7c

9.27

1.78bcd

19.5b

50.9ab

28.2

NO-CAT

245.0b

10.69

3.22abc

30.9a

57.0ab

27.5

2008 CAT

244.0b

13.24

3.28ab

25.2ab

56.3ab

25.6

NO-CAT

347.3a

14.44

4.53a

31.4a

60.0a

24.7

Significance

0.001

ns

0.012

0.005

0.001

ns

Table 3.10 Wheat productive results at the Torino site

Main factors

Grain

Straw

Harvest

Grain N

Straw N

Grain N

Straw N

and

yield

yield

index

content

content

uptake

uptake

interaction

(ton ha-

!) (ton ha-

') (%)

(%)

(%)

(kg ha-1)

(kg ha-1

Treatment

CAT

4.4

10.5

0.30

2.61

1.18

109.7

129.0

NO-CAT

4.0

9.9

0.29

2.56

1.21

98.8

124.9

Significance

ns

ns

ns

ns

ns

ns

ns

Year

2006

5.9a

7.5b

0.44a

2.18b

0.83c

128.9a

63.2b

2007

3.5b

12.2a

0.22b

2.67a

1.26b

91.5b

154.3a

2008

3.2b

10.8a

0.23b

2.91a

1.50a

92.3b

163.4a

Significance

0.001

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.003

0.000

Year x Treatment

Significance

ns

ns

ns

ns

ns

ns

ns

(0.37 vs. 0.33%, significant per P < 0.001). No negative effect resulted for crops' vegetative phases, since number of tillers per plant and plant heights were not different between un-treated (No-CAT) and treated plants (data not shown). At the Torino site, all measured parameters of crop production resulted not to be influenced by the Fe-porphyrin addition to soil (Table 3.10).

In general, our results of field trials suggest that Fe-porphyrin treatment did not induce any significant effect on the main yield parameters for wheat. The occurred sequestration of carbon in soil upon the CAT treatment (see Chap. 4) did not appear to have induced any downshift in the N mineralization potentially affecting nitrogen crop uptake, and, thus, productive yields were not different from control.

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