Boosting Barley Growth in Salty Soils With Natural Acids

Greg Howard
16th March, 2024

Boosting Barley Growth in Salty Soils With Natural Acids

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study at Qassim University found that humic and fulvic acids with phosphorus boost barley growth in salty soil
  • Barley treated with these substances had more spikes, heavier grains, and higher yields
  • Even at half the recommended dose, humic acid with phosphorus increased grain yield by over 64%
In the quest to bolster agricultural productivity in the face of salinity stress, a challenge that significantly hampers plant growth and yield, researchers at Qassim University have made a promising discovery[1]. Salinity in soil disrupts the balance of essential nutrients, particularly affecting the uptake of potassium (K), a key element in plant health and stress tolerance. This imbalance not only stunts plant growth but also decreases crop yields, posing a serious threat to food security, especially in regions with saline soils. Building on earlier research that highlighted the potential of potassium and humic substances to enhance plant resilience to salinity[2][3][4][5], the study at Qassim University explored the combined effects of humic acid (HA), fulvic acid (FA), and phosphorus fertilizers on barley, a crop vital for human and animal consumption. The study aimed to determine the most effective treatment combinations for improving plant growth and grain yield under saline conditions. The experiment involved treating barley seedlings with varying concentrations of HA, FA, and the recommended dose of phosphorus fertilizer (RDP). The researchers meticulously observed the impact of these treatments on agronomic traits, such as grain yield, straw yield, and plant height, as well as the uptake of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in both straw and grain. The results were striking. Treatments combining HA or FA with phosphorus fertilizer significantly improved the barley plants' performance under salinity stress. The most notable improvements were seen in the number of spikes per plant, the weight of 1000 grains, grain yield per hectare, and the harvest index, which is a measure of the efficiency of plants in converting the harvested biomass into grain. Specifically, the combination of HA with the full recommended dose of phosphorus fertilizer (100% RDP) led to a remarkable 64.69% increase in grain yield over the control in the first season, with a similar increase of 64.08% in the second season. Even when the dose of HA was reduced to 50%, the grain yield still saw a significant boost, emphasizing the powerful effect of organic amendments in enhancing crop resilience to salinity. These findings are in line with previous studies that have demonstrated the potential of potassium and humic substances, such as K-humate, to improve plant stress tolerance[2][3][5]. The current study extends this knowledge by showing that the integration of HA or FA with phosphorus fertilizers can further amplify these benefits. Moreover, the study supports the notion that organic amendments can play a crucial role in managing salinity stress in plants, as they not only improve nutrient uptake but also contribute to better overall plant health and productivity. This is particularly relevant in light of the growing interest in sustainable agricultural practices that reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers and enhance soil health. In conclusion, the research from Qassim University offers a practical strategy for farmers grappling with saline soils. By incorporating organic amendments such as humic and fulvic acids with phosphorus fertilizers, it is possible to significantly improve the growth and yield of barley, and potentially other crops, under challenging saline conditions. This approach not only holds promise for increasing agricultural sustainability but also for supporting food security in areas affected by soil salinity.

AgricultureEnvironmentPlant Science


Main Study

1) Applications of humic and fulvic acid under saline soil conditions to improve growth and yield in barley.

Published 15th March, 2024

Journal: BMC plant biology

Issue: Vol 24, Issue 1, Mar 2024

Related Studies

2) Potassium and Humic Acid Synergistically Increase Salt Tolerance and Nutrient Uptake in Contrasting Wheat Genotypes through Ionic Homeostasis and Activation of Antioxidant Enzymes.

3) Soil Amendment Using Biochar and Application of K-Humate Enhance the Growth, Productivity, and Nutritional Value of Onion (Allium cepa L.) under Deficit Irrigation Conditions.

4) Potassium: A track to develop salinity tolerant plants.

5) Rice seed (IR64) priming with potassium humate for improvement of seed germination, seedling growth and antioxidant defense system under arsenic stress.

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