Zinc fertilization in cowpea cultivars

ABSTRACT Zinc (Zn) is an essential micronutrient for plants, due to its role as a functional, structural, or regulatory cofactor in a large number of enzymes. The element is necessary for the synthesis of tryptophan, which is a precursor of indoleacetic acid. The aim of this study was to evaluate the behavior of two cowpea cultivars fertilized with four doses of Zn (0.0, 2.0, 4.0, and 6.0 kg of Zn ha-1) regarding dry grain yield (PGS), in addition to quantifying leaf and grain Zn content and grain crude protein. The experiment was conducted in the town of Brejo, in the state of Maranhão, Brazil. A 4 x 2 factorial scheme was used with four replications. Response functions were adjusted by calculating the Zn doses which provided a maximum technical efficiency for each genotype. The tested cultivars of cowpea showed no great difference regarding Zn demand applied to the soil, ranging from 3.2 to 3.4 kg of Zn ha-1 for BRS Tumucumaque and BRS Guariba, respectively. Concerning Zn use efficiency, BRS Guariba was more responsive than was BRS Tumucumaque, i.e. the same dose of Zn produced 70 kg grain and 2.1 kg crude protein per hectare.