From flooded to aerobic conditions in rice cultivation: consequences for zinc uptake

Gao, X.; Zou, C.; Fan, X.; Zhang, F.S.; Hoffland, E.


Scarcity of water causes a shift from flooded to aerobic conditions for rice production in zinc deficient areas in Northern China. This shift alters soil conditions that affect zinc availability to the crop. This paper concerns the effect of aerobic compared to flooded conditions on crop biomass production, grain yield and zinc content. A field experiment was done with six rice genotypes (Oryza sativa L.) grown on a calcareous soil, both with (23 kg Zn ha┬┐1) and without Zn fertilization. Sampling was conducted at tillering and physiological mature stage. Zn concentration in the shoots was significantly lower at both stages in plants grown in the aerobic field. At maturity, Zn uptake, biomass production, grain yield and Zn-harvest index [grain Zn/(shoot + grain Zn)] were lower under aerobic cultivation. Rice genotypes including aerobic rice and lowland rice differ in degree of response to low Zn supply. A twofold difference was found among aerobic genotypes in grain yield and Zn uptake. Also Zn-harvest index varied significantly. Zn application affected neither grain yield nor grain Zn content, although it significantly improved biomass production in both systems in most genotypes. These results demonstrate that introduction of aerobic rice systems on calcareous soils may increase Zn deficiency problems.