Growth and gas exchange in cowpea plants under different managements and saline conditions

<div><p>ABSTRACT The cowpea is one of the main crops of economic and social importance in the northeast of Brazil. However, the growing need to increase crop yield has prompted the use of irrigation water with high levels of salts. The aim of this study therefore, was to evaluate the effects of different irrigation depths and rates of liquid biofertilizer on growth and gas exchange in cowpea plants under saline conditions. The experiment was conducted in a randomized block design, using a scheme of split lots consisting of four irrigation depths with saline water (75, 100, 125 and 150% of crop evapotranspiration - ETc) and sub-lots of four different doses of biofertilizer (0; 5,000; 10,000 and 15,000 L ha-1). At 75 days after sowing (DAS), readings were taken of gas exchange in the plants (photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, internal CO2 concentration and transpiration), and growth analyses were carried out (plant height, leaf area and total dry matter). An increase in irrigation depth gives an increase in total dry weight and leaf area. Increasing irrigation depth causes a significant increase in gas exchange, with quadratic behavior noted for photosynthesis and stomatal conductance, and linear behavior for internal CO2 concentration and transpiration. The application of high doses of biofertilizer gives increased stomatal opening of the cowpea leaves.</p></div>