Response of Soft Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) to Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizers in a Semi-Arid Rainfed Mediterranean Climate Area of Morocco
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Biology Department, Faculty of Sciences of Ben M’Sick, Hassan II University, Casablanca 20023, Morocco
Agronomy Department, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Settat, 26000, Morocco
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Mohamed Amine El Mzouri   

Biology Department, Faculty of Sciences of Ben M’Sick, Hassan II University, Casablanca 20023, Morocco
Ecol. Eng. Environ. Technol. 2023; 7:229–236
Reasoned fertilization is an essential element of the agroecological approach, which aims first and foremost to improve soil and plant growth. The objective was to examine how slow-release nitrogen fertilizer will perform on the wheat productivity compared to conventional quick-release nitrogen fertilizers. A slow-release nitrogen cover fertilizer Duramon (24% N) was applied to soft wheat and compared to conventional nitrogen fertilizers as well as the local farmer practices. A randomized complete blocks design was adopted with four replications and four sites and repeated during three cropping seasons. Stand density, plant canopy height, tillers/plant, spikes/plant, biological yield, grain yield and harvest index were evaluated. Compared with conventional quick-release nitrogen fertilizers, the slow-release nitrogen significantly (P≤0.05) improved tillering, spikes/plant, canopy height, biological yield, grain yield and harvest index. It achieved an average total biomass and grain yields of 3220 kg DM/ha and 978 kg/ha, respectively. The average gains for total biomass and grain yields were 14% and 21%, respectively. However, when compared with the local farmers’ practices, the gains obtained were significantly higher, with 123% and 175% for the slow-release N fertilizer and 95% and 128% for the conventional quick-release N fertilizer, respectively. The harvest index was improved by N application, rising from 25% in local controls up to 30% for slow-release N fertilizers. In conclusion, compared with conventional quick-release nitrogen fertilizers and local practices, the use of slow-release fertilizers with less units of nitrogen applied significantly improved spikes number, biological and grain yields and harvest index, even in dry years. Keywords: conventional N fertilizers, N management, productivity, rainfed agriculture, slow-release N fertilizer, Mediterranean, semi-arid area, climate change.