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Verification and dissemination of seed priming technologies on lentil for better crop

establishments and seed yield under different environments of Nepal1


Darai, R. 2, Adhikari, B.N.3 , Shrestha, R.4 and Wagle, B.P.5

Abstract

Lentil (Lens culinaris) is the main pulse crop of Nepal occupying about 60% of the total legume
area and production. Nepalese lentil’s share in the world export market is about 2% (FAOSTAT,
2004). It plays a vital role in improving soil fertility and makes farming systems sustainable.
Lentil is a cheap source of protein and straw is also used as animal feed. Lentil is often grown as
the rainfed crop entirely relying on residual soil moisture. Soil water deficit during sowing and
podding is the major abiotic stress. Poor seedling emergence and plant establishment are the
main problem resulting in lower seed yield. Therefore, an experiment was undertaken to
evaluate the effect of priming (water, cowdung and soluble fertilizer Potassium Dihydrogen
orthophosphate KH2PO4) under relay and post rice condition in Rampur and Nepalgunj to
quantify the effect on germination, seedling root growth and yield performance. Demonstration
of seed priming technique (soaking of seed in plain water for 12 hours followed by air drying
prior to sowing) in the farmers’ field of Devnagar, Chitwan had shown increased seed yield,
early maturity (1 week), better seed filling and less disease and pest incidence. Seed priming
increased seed yield by 26% as compared with non priming. The maximum yield achieved under
farmers field was 2.85 t/ha in Simrik and Sindur after seed priming intervention. On farm
research results have showed up to 100% higher seed yield over non-primed seeds.

Key Words: Seed priming, lentil, varieties

Introduction

Lentil (Lens culinaris Medikus Subsp. culinaris) is the main pulse crop among different pulses
crops grown in Nepal. It ranks first in to area (189181 ha) and production (164694 tons) which
shares about 60% of the total legume area and production (MOAC, 2007). Lentil is one of the
exportable commodities and Nepalese lentil’s share in the world export market is about 2%
(FAO, 2004). Importance of lentil as a pulse crop is well established due to its role in food, feed
and farming systems of Nepal. Lentil is a cheapest source of protein and straw is also used as
animal feed. It is also a key commodity crop in crop diversification and intensification programs
in the country. Among several management options, ensuring germination and optimum plant
establishment is of great importance to achieve higher yield. Lentil is generally planted in mid
Oct to Nov and harvested to March/April. Farmers grow lentil after harvest of normal rice, maize
and upland rice. Generally farmers need about 7-10 days for land preparation, a lot of moisture is
lost during this process and patches in the field remain dry in which the seed broadcast may not

1
Paper presented at 27th winter crops workshop held at NARC, Khumaltar during Sept. 10-12, 2008.
2
Senior Scientist, RARS, Nepalgunj
3
Technical Officer, NGLRP, Rampur
4
Coordinator, NGLRP, Rampur
5
Technician, NGLRP, Rampur

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germinate. This problem can be solved to a great extend using seed priming technology, which
have also been proved effective in other crops.

Seed priming is simply the practice of soaking seed prior to sowing and has been used in
traditional agriculture to improve plant establishment for centuries and more recently in
horticultural crops. Priming is a traditional pre-sowing crop practice, which involves soaking
seeds overnight, air drying before sowing within the following day. In on farm trials in India, it
has been reported that seed priming increases yield of chickpea and other rainfed crops (Harries
et al. 1999). Tweleve hours soaking with water followed by 2 hour air drying prior to sowing
improved establishment and grain yield in lentil var. Khajura- 2 (Neupane, 2002). Primed seed
sown as post rice produced 15-30% higher yield than unprimed seeds (Ali, 1999). He also
reported further yield improvement when primed with additional 2% KH2PO4.

Seed priming is not a new technology and needs fine tuning. Even though, priming of post rice
sown lentil is now recommended practice and needs to promote in major lentil growing areas. The
objective was to investigate the efficacy of seed priming technology, identification of suitable
varieties and its dissemination for improving crop establishments and yield of lentil.

Materials and Methods

Three different priming treatments viz. seed priming with 2% soluble fertilizer Potassium
Dihydrogen orthophosphate (KH2PO4), cow dung (1 kg cow dung + 2 litre of water), plain water
priming for 12 hours were compared with non primed lentil under post rice and relay sown
condition in RCB design with three replication at Rampur and Nepalgunj during 2005-2006
cropping season. In addition, Lathyrus seed priming with plain water also included during
2005/06 at Rampur and during 06/07 at Nepalgunj. However, effect of Lathyrus seed priming
could not be compared with non-priming treatment. Primed seeds were shade dried for 2 hours
and sown immediately. Plot size used was 4 m x 3 m at Rampur and 4 m x 2 m at Nepalgunj.
Sowing was done 25 cm row spacing and continuous within a row on first week of November
and seed rate applied was 40 kg/ha. Fertilizers @ 20:40:20 NPK kg/ha were applied at the time
of final land preparation. No fertilizer was given for relay sowing. Data on days to germination,
root length days to flowering, days to maturity and plant population and yield were recorded.

Demonstration trial of seed priming with plain water was conducted in farmers' field of
Devnagar, Chitwan during 2004/05. This area is identified particularly as the irrigated rainfed &
predominantly rice-lentil/wheat/toria-summer rice system. Seed priming (12 hours soaking
followed by 2 hours air drying prior to sowing) verses non-priming treatments consisted in two
recommended varieties: Shishir and Sindur under relay and post rice condition. Trials were
distributed to 25 farmers. Seed rate used was @ 40 kg/ha. The primed and non- primed (dry
seeds) were sown side by side. Yield and farmers reactions were taken.

Results and Discussion

In general, effects of seed priming on yield and yield contributing characters observed were
beneficial. Seed priming was more successful in the relatively drier soil condition where lentil
seed priming increased 50% yield on an average in some years. The yield of lentils recorded

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during 2005/06 at Rampur was low due to very dry growing season (Table: 1.1). There was
nearly no rainfall during November-March (Annex:1) resulted in very poor vegetative growth.
However, water priming under relay sown condition produced 17% higher than non-primed seed
(Table: 1.2). As a matter of fact, priming showed negative effect on a grain yield i.e. about 15%
yield reduction when seed primed with plain water. Similarly there was and 40%-53%yield
reduction when primed with cow dung and KH2PO4 (Table: 1.2).

This result concluded that in case of very dry condition priming for relay sowing is
recommended and for post rice no priming is relatively beneficial. Plain water priming, priming
with cow dung slurry resulted about 6 days early in seed emergence however it was observed
equal with non primed seeds when primed with KH2PO4.

During 2006/07 under Rampur condition there was 52 % increment in grain yield when seed
primed with plain water over non-primed under post rice system (Table: 2.1). Similarly, 31 %
and 25% yield increased in grain yield was observed with KH2PO4 priming and cow dung
priming respectively at Rampur (Table 2.1). Similar results were reported at Khumaltar, where
highest lentil seed yield (1201kg/ha) was recorded from water priming which was 24% higher
than non- primed (AGD, 2001).

At Rampur, water primed seeds matured 3 days early than non-primed. Priming had significant
effect on seed yield and other yield contributing traits such as root length, crop emergence, days
to flowering. About equal yield 850kg/ha was recorded for all 4 priming treatments on lentil at
Nepalgunj during 2006/07 when there was fair winter rain received (Table: 2.2). Grasspea
primed with water for 12 hrs produced 1942 kg/ha however, due to lack of control treatment the
comparison between priming and non priming couldn’t be done. Lentil matured about 10 days
earlier in 2005/06 as compared with 2006/07 at Rampur (Table: 1.2 and 2.1), is due to drier
growing period in 2005/06 resulted poor yield. Drier weather in 2005/06 shortened crop duration
and therefore poor grain yield.

Priming under Farmers’ Field Condition

Maximum yield up to 4 t/ha in Simrik and 2.8 t/ha in Sindur were observed with the intervention
of priming technology. The primed seed increased deliberately up to 100% grain yield over non-
priming (Table:3). However, the mean yield increment of primed seed was 26% over the non-
primed seed in the farmers’ field (Table 5). Field observation and farmers feedback a week
earlier maturity, disease free and larger seed was produced than non priming. But we should take
care that seed priming technologies wasn't applicable in too dry and too moist soils during the
sowing time of primed seeds. Both the condition might be negative results of seed priming.

Farmers’ Reaction

Farmers reported that primed seeds emerged 3 days earlier than non-primed seeds and it quickly
became apparent that these early gains led to a range of later benefits. Primed crops grew faster,
flowered earlier, avoided the effects of dry spells and formed grain earlier. Higher yields were
harvested some 7-10 days earlier than normal sowing.

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Conclusion and Recommendation

Seed priming effect is prominent in terms of seed yield and other yield contributing traits
such as root length, crop emergence, days to flower, maturity. Priming can bust about 50%
yield if there is fair rain during winter.
The effect of priming will be negative in term of yield both excess and deficit moisture on
the field. In such a drier condition, relay system give more yield than post rice.
Primed seeds emerged 3 days earlier than dry sown lentil. Priming resulted in faster growth,
good establishment; early flowering and early maturity thus escapes raising temperature in
March/April the effects of dry spells and formed grain earlier. Higher yields were harvested
some 7-10 days earlier than normal sowing.

Acknowledgement

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to CLIMA, Austrailia for financial support to
conduct this project. All the concerned technical staffs of NGLRP, Rampur and RARS,
Nepalgunj are equal gratitude for their hard work on experiment planting and data recording.

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References

Annual Report, 2001. Agronomy Division, Khumaltar.

Annual Report, 2004. NGLRP, Rampur, Chitwan.

FAOSTAT, 2004. Agricultural data: agriculture and food trade. Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Natoions, Statistics Division, http://faistat.fao.org/

Harris, D., Joshi, A., Khan, P.A., Gothkar, P. and Sodhi, P.S. (1999). On-farm seed priming
in semi-arid agriculture: development and evaluation in maize, rice and chickpea in India
using participatory methods. Experimental Agriculture 35: 15-29.

MOAC, 2007/08. Statistical information on Nepalese Agriculture, Government of Nepal,


Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

Neupane, R.K. (2002). Effect of seed priming on growth and yield of Lentil variety
Khajura Masuro 2. In: Neupane, R K, Yadav, NK and Darai, R. (eds), Proceedings of
National Winter Crops Workshop, 12-14 September, 2002. Bara, Nepal: Regional
Agricultural Research Station, Parwanipur, pp 59-62.

Table: 1.1 Effects of priming on lentil under relay condition at Rampur, 2005/06
Treatment Root Days Days to Days to Plant/m2 Seed Yield
length to flower maturity Yield difference
(cm) emerge (kg/ha) over non-
primed
Seed priming 5.17 8 81 115 117
with plain water 465 17%
Priming with 5 6 82 115 158
cow dung 450 13%
Priming with 4.22 10 82 115 157
KH2PO4 388 -
Non-Priming 5.57 12 82 117 164
(Dry sown 398 -
Lathyrus priming 6.72 11 85 116 159
with plain water 238
Mean 5.34 9 82 115 163 388
F-test * ** Ns Ns * *
CV% 16.91 11.63 2.20 2.08 18.81 24.23
LSD (0.05%) 1.47 1.79 50.01 153.31
T1: Seed priming with plain water, T2: Priming with cow dung, T3: Priming with KH2PO4, T4: Non-Priming (Dry
sown), T5: Lathyrus priming with plain water

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Table: 1.2 Effects of priming on lentil under Post rice condition at Rampur, 2005/06
Treatment Root Days Days Days to Plant/m2 Seed Yield
length to to maturity Yield difference
(cm) emerge flower (kg/ha) over non-
primed
Seed priming
5.76 6 79 115 229 208 -14%
with plain water
Priming with
5.33 5 81 114 213 113 -53%
cow dung
Priming with
4.26 11 81 116 205 144 -40%
KH2PO4
Non-Priming
5.60 11 81 117 258 242
(Dry sown
Lathyrus
priming with 7.50 9 85 117 233 104
plain water
Mean 5.69 8 81 116 228 163
F-test ** ** * Ns Ns Ns
CV% 9.76 8.82 1.82 1.15 24.18 46.13
LSD(0.05%) 0.9 1.22 2.41
T1: Seed priming with plain water, T2: Priming with cow dung, T3: Priming with KH2PO4, T4: Non-Priming (Dry
sown),

Table: 2.1 Effects of priming on lentil under post rice condition at Rampur, 2006/07
Treatment Root Days to DF DM Plht P/P S/P GY Yield
length 50% (cm) (kg/ha) difference
emerge over non-
primed
Seed
priming
4.53 7.54 75 124 28 30 17 757 52%
with plain
water
Priming
with cow 6 8.6 80 126 27 31 16 623 25%
dung
Priming
with 5.19 8.6 80 129 32 30 17 653 31%
KH2PO4
Non-
Priming 5.63 9 77 127 27 31 17 497
(Dry sown

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Mean 5.34 8.44 78.00 126.50 28.50 30.50 16.75 632.50
F-test * NS NS NS * NS NS *
CV% 11.22 12.23 3.6 1.53 15.4 18.05 4.56 21.39
LSD(0.05%) 1.12 1.21 147
T1: Seed priming with plain water, T2: Priming with cow dung, T3: Priming with KH2PO4, T4: Non-Priming (Dry
sown),

Table: 2.2 Effects of priming on lentil under post rice system, Nepalgunj 2006/07
Rooting Dry matter (g/m2)
SN Treatment ES FS GY
depth (cm) Above ground Root
Seed
priming
1 150 123 837 9.9 50 12
with plain
water
Priming
2 with cow 134 114 850 10.4 51 10
dung
Priming
3 with 156 125 854 8.9 48 9
KH2PO4
Non-
4 Priming 140 122 867 8.7 51 11
(Dry sown
Lathyrus
priming
5 61 48 1942 11.4 40 7
with plain
water
‘F’ test <.001 <.001 <.001 0.008 0.183 0.223
LSD
27 22 378 1.5
(<0.05)
CV % 13.9 13.3 22.9 9.5 13.8 31.5
T1: Seed priming with plain water, T2: Priming with cow dung, T3: Priming with KH2PO4, T4: Non-Priming (Dry
sown), T5: Lathyrus seed priming with water
ES = Early stand, FS = Final stand, GY = Grain yield (kg/ha), Root length taken after 2 weeks of seeding

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Table: 3 Performance of lentil under priming and non- priming demonstration trial
conducted at Devnagar, Chitwan 2005
S.N. Farmers Name Variety Yield in Yield in non Difference % Yield
Priming Priming (kg/ha) increment
(kg/ha) (kg/ha) over non-
priming
1 Chandi Neupane Sindur 2800 2400 400 16.67
2 Bal Bd. Achraya Simrik 2667 2400 267 11.11
3 Manapati Tripathi Simrik 2267 2000 267 13.33
4 Bal Krishna Tripathi Sindur 2667 2133 533 25.00
5 Chet Bd. Achraya Sindur 2400 2000 400 20.00
6 Govinda Subedi Simrik 1333 1333 0 0.00
7 Netra Pd Neupane Simrik 1600 1333 267 20.00
8 Megh pd. Devkota Simrik 1067 800 267 33.33
9 Bal Ram Aryal Simrik 1067 800 267 33.33
10 Krishna Pd. Chapagain Sindur 1867 1600 267 16.67
11 Badri Nath Koirala Sindur 1067 1067 0 0.00
12 Min Raj Poudel Simrik 2133 1333 800 60.00
13 Ramila Koirala Simrik 1600 1067 533 50.00
14 Chattra Kumari Aryal Sindur 2000 2000 0 0.00
15 Guman Singh Dawadi Sindur 2133 1067 1067 100.00
16 Yam Nath Regmi Simrik 1067 933 133 14.29
17 Dev Raj Sapkota Simrik 1867 1333 533 40.00
18 Chuda Mani Sapkota Simrik 4000 2667 1333 50.00
Mean 1978 1570 407 25.96
SD 770 596 359
Minimum 1067 800 0 0
Maximum 4000 2667 1333 100

Annex: 1 Meteorological information of Rampur July 2005 to June 2006


Months Temperature 0C Total Relative
Maximum Minimum Rainfall (mm) Humidity (%)
July 33.0 25.5 349.2 86.5
August 32.98 25.5 671.1 85.4
September 34.5 25.06 148.6 87.6
October 31.5 19.9 183.5 85.6
November 28.15 13.02 0 94.2
December 25.05 8.82 0 100
January 23.0 8.04 0 99.4
February 28.53 13.99 0.1 98.82
March 32.43 12.8 3.0 74.65
April 34.83 18.59 125.9 66.4
May 35.08 23.02 279.7 76.4
June 34.65 24.86 387.1 79.3
Source: National Maize Research Program, Rampur

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Annex: 2 Meteorological information of Rampur July 2006 to June 2007
Months Temperature 0C Total Relative
Maximum Minimum Rainfall (mm) Humidity (%)
July 34.3 26.2 352.3 83.9
August 34.7 25.5 405.4 80.2
September 33.4 24.1 362.0 85.5
October 32.9 19.9 60.6 83.5
November 28.4 15.5 2.1 95.1
December 25.0 10.6 19.0 100.0
January 21.0 7.9 0 99.6
February 23.9 12.3 80.3 96.9
March 29.3 14.3 46.6 86.2
April 35.4 19.8 100.9 69.5
May 36.4 23.2 131.0 72.8
June 34.7 24.8 406.7 80.3
Source: National Maize Research Program, Rampur