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Germination of leucaena and Rhodes grass seeds in saline and alkaline conditions

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Saline and alkaline groundwater can be used for irrigation of pastures. Using leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala cv. Tarramba) and Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana cv. Topcut), the effects of saline (electrical conductivity [EC], 0-20 dS m-1), sodic (sodium absorption ratio [SAR], SAR 5-30), and alkaline (0-855 mg L-1 CaCO3 equivalent) water on seed germination was investigated, with seedling root growth also measured in leucaena. For leucaena, germination decreased at EC > 15 dS m-1, but SAR at values of up to 30 had no effect on germination. Alkalinity was found not to influence germination of leucaena (up to 855 mg L-1 CaCO3 equivalent). Germination of 'Topcut' Rhodes grass was not reduced significantly with any EC, SAR or alkalinity treatment used in this study. Root growth in leucaena was inhibited by salinity > 5 dS m-1, SAR > 5 and alkalinity (as CaCO3) > 24 mg L-1. It was found that the inhibition of root elongation of leucaena at high SAR values could be attributed to Ca deficiency, i.e. activity of Ca2+ at the root cell plasma membrane. Germination of leucaena and Topcut Rhodes grass was highly tolerant of the salinity and alkalinity found in alkaline and saline groundwater (including water extracted from coal seams) when used for irrigation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-12-01

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