Recently, a research paper entitled “Interpreting variety-location-fertilizer interactions to enhance foxtail millet productivity in northern China” by the cultivation and economics team of Institute of Millet Crops of HAAFS was published online in Agronomy, an internationally renowned academic journal in the field of agriculture. Researcher CUI Jihan, XIA Xueyan and ZHAO Yu are the co-first authors. Researcher LI Shunguo is the corresponding author.
Foxtail millet (Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv.) is an important cereal crop, which is widely grown in arid and semi-arid areas of China and India, with excellent drought and barren tolerance, short growth and long suitable sowing windows. Crops, environment and cultivation measures are interrelated to form a farmland crop cultivation system. The field performance of crops is the comprehensive result of varieties, environment and cultivation measures. Previous research results defined the suitable variety or fertilization level in a specific location and provided better theoretical guidance for local millet cultivation. However, based on the one-way test in a specific environment, it is unable to explore the best matching mode of crop varieties, environment, and cultivation measures, or to explain the regulation mechanisms of cultivation measures in aspects of environmental factors, variety characteristics, and yield.
Based on the yield characteristics of regional representative varieties, the characteristics of light, temperature, water resources and soil nutrients in the main summer foxtail millet producing areas, this study explored the interaction mechanism of varieties, environment and fertilization measures through many years of multi-point experiments in the main foxtail millet producing areas in northern China. The results showed that the contribution of year, location, variety, fertilization and their interactions to yield variation was different, with the largest contribution of location (38.7%), followed by year (33.6%), and the contributions of variety and fertilizer were 7.1% and 3.2%, respectively. The RDA results showed that more than 63.0% of the yield variances were clustered in the first factor. Excessive single rainfall or total rainfall and air temperature (especially minimum temperature) were significantly associated with the millet yield.
The study clarified the interaction of varieties, environment and fertilization measures, identified the key soil and meteorological factors affecting productivity, and analyzed the characteristics of high-yield varieties that are compatible with regional resources. The results offered an important reference for variety layout, natural resources potential mining, and formulation of efficient green cultural practices.
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