Developing new crops adapted to arid conditions is a promising approach to meet the increasing demand for food production under expanding aridity. Tef [Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter] is a C4 cereal crop cultivated mainly in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, and known for its high resilience to stressful environments. Due to their tiny size, tef seeds are traditionally sown by broadcasting and lightly covering with soil. Under semiarid Mediterranean conditions, a deeper sowing may guarantee seedling establishment while saving on irrigation water. The objective of this study was, therefore, to determine the effects of sowing depth on tef emergence, development, lodging, and productivity. Tef seeds were sown at different depths in test tubes and pots, and in two field experiments. In tubes and pots, time from sowing to emergence increased about twofold and emergence rate decreased in the deepest sowing (3 cm) treatment compared to controls (0 cm). In the pot and field trials, deep sowing (3 cm) significantly reduced plant height, shoot and root biomass, and lodging. Sowing depths of 1–2 cm allowed successful plant establishment while not exacting penalties on plant emergence or development; hence this range appears to be optimal for sowing irrigated tef.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This study was funded by The Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Scientist Foundation (grant nos. 21-01-0045 and 12-01-0032).
Acknowledgments: We thank Vered Barak, Neta Levinson, Noa Kirby, Ori Harash, and Eran Dagan for their technical assistance in the field and laboratory. We also thank the Tsabar Kama agriculture partnership for hosting the field experiments. S.B.-Z. is indebted to the Robert H. Smith Foundation for a doctoral fellowship award. Y.S. is the incumbent of the Haim Gvati Chair in Agriculture.
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Eragrostis tef
- New crop
- Sowing depth