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Journal of Environmental Management 91 (2009) 215–221

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Environmental Management


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jenvman

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) responses to fertilization and salinity under


irrigation conditionsq
Menahem Edelstein a, *, Zvi Plaut c, Nativ Dudai b, Meni Ben-Hur c
a
Department of Vegetable Crops, Newe Ya’ar Research Center, ARO, P.O. Box 1021, Ramat Yishay 30-095, Israel
b
Section of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, Newe Ya’ar Research Center, ARO, P.O. Box 1021, Ramat Yishay 30-095, Israel
c
Institute of Soils, Water and Environmental Sciences, The Volcani Center, ARO, P.O. Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) has not been widely introduced in arid and semi-arid regions where irri-
Received 1 January 2009 gation, fertilization, and salinity are important factors in plant growth. The main objective of this study
Received in revised form was to determine the response of vetiver to fertilization (fertigation) and salinity and their interactions
26 July 2009
under irrigated conditions. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse in 10-L pots. Combined
Accepted 6 August 2009
Available online 25 August 2009
effects of three nutrients concentrations and three salinity levels of electrical conductivity (EC) 1, 3 and
6 dS/m in the irrigation water on growth and transpiration of vetiver plants and the content of different
elements in their foliage were studied. Similar contents of w3.7 g/kg Na, w5.77 g/kg Ca and w2.55 g/kg
Keywords:
Electrical conductivity Mg were found in the foliage of all the plants irrigated with the different fertilizer and salinity levels.
Fertigation Concentrations of 59 mg/L N and 36.1 mg/L K in the irrigation water were sufficient for vetiver plants
Ion content needs at the different salinity levels tested. The salinity threshold (the maximum EC in the soil solution
Nutrient concentration that does not cause a significant yield reduction) for vetiver was between 3 and 6 dS/m. A concentration
Phosphorous of 15.2 mg/L P in the irrigation water was the optimum value for vetiver growth in the three salinity
Salinity levels, resulting in an average content of 5.95 g/kg P in plant foliage. It is suggested that vetiver is
Shoot growth sensitive to excess P (>8.66 g/kg). Increasing EC in the irrigation water to 6 dS/m decreased plant foliage
Transpiration
biomass mainly due to an increase in the osmotic potential of the irrigation water and high Cl
concentration in the foliage.
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction dislodge when exposed to a strong water flow (Hengchaovanich,


1998; Truong et al., 1995). Likewise, the vetiver plant is also highly
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) is a perennial tufted plant resistant to pests, diseases and fire (Chen, 1999; West et al., 1996).
belonging to the Gramineae family and Andropogoneae subfamily These unique physical and physiological characteristics of vetiver
(Maffei, 2002). It is widely distributed in many tropical regions, give this grass distinct advantage for use in soil and water conser-
such as – India, Southeast Asia, Nepal, Pakistan, Polynesia, tropical vation, rehabilitation, and remediation, waste water treatment, and
Africa, West Indies, and parts of South America (Greenfield, 1988). in addition is grown for its scented oils in the roots and as fodder for
Vetiver typically grows in well-drained soils in areas with an annual livestock (Chiu et al., 2006; Klomjek and Nitisoravut, 2005; Lavania
rainfall of 1000–2000 mm and with temperatures ranging from 21 et al., 2004; Maffei, 2002). Details about the potential and versa-
to 44.5  C (Maffei, 2002). Vetiver grass has short rhizomes and tility of vetiver grass are available at http://vetiver.org.
a massive, finely structured root system that grows very quickly. It Surface runoff and erosion contribute widely to land degrada-
has been reported to grow to a depth as much as w4 m in the first tion in many parts of the world due to their effects on water loss
year of growth (Truong, 2002). This deep root system makes the and reduced soil fertility on the one hand, and their intensification
vetiver plant extremely drought tolerant and very difficult to of flooding and surface water pollution risks on the other hand.
Vetiver grass has been used intensively for soil and water conser-
vation purposes and for stabilization of steep slopes (Hengchao-
vanich, 1999; Truong, 2002; Truong and Creighton, 1994; Xie, 1997;
q Contribution from the Agricultural Research Organization, the Volcani Center,
Xia et al., 1999).
601/08.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ972 4 953 9515; fax: þ972 4 983 6936.
Although vetiver is widely cultivated in tropical and sub-
E-mail addresses: meni@volcani.agri.gov.il (M. Edelstein), nativdud@volcani. tropical regions, it is not commonly grown in arid and semi-arid
agri.gov.il (N. Dudai), medelst@volcani.agri.gov.il (M. Ben-Hur). regions, such as the Middle East. Limited studies have been

0301-4797/$ – see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2009.08.006
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216 M. Edelstein et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 91 (2009) 215–221

conducted to determine the suitability of vetiver in arid and semi- vetiver plants were investigated by combining three fertilizer
arid regions. In a study that tried to develop management prac- concentrations with three salinity levels in the irrigation water
tices for growing vetiver under Mediterranean conditions (Dudai under a completely randomized, factorial design, with five
et al., 2006), it was found that once it was established, vetiver replicates (five pots) for each combination. In the fertilizer
could survive the dry Mediterranean summer, although rain-fed treatments, three concentrations, 1, 2 and 4 mL/L, of liquid
plants were much shorter than irrigated ones. Dagar et al. (2004) fertilizer ‘‘Shefer 1’’ (Haifa Chemicals LTD, Israel) in the irrigation
found that in semi-arid regions of northern India, that vetiver, water were used, where the weight ratio of N:P2O5:K2O in this
which withstands both high pH and flooded conditions, could fertilizer was 5:3:8, respectively, and N–NO3 was 68% of the total
successfully be grown without significant yield reductions on inorganic N in the fertilizer. Nutrient concentrations in the irri-
highly alkaline soils. gation water for the 1, 2, and 4 mL/L fertilizer treatments were:
In arid and semi-arid regions, rainfall and water resources are 59, 118, and 236 mg/L nitrogen; 7.6, 15.2, and 30.4 mg/L phos-
limited and natural soil fertility is poor because of low organic phorus; and 36.1, 72.2, and 144.4 mg/L potassium, respectively.
matter content. Arid soils are also characterized by relatively high The salinity levels in the irrigation water were: (i) fresh water
salinity and sodicity (Ben-Hur, 2008). In addition, because of the with EC w1 dS/m and sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) of w2.5 (a
shortage of fresh water in theses regions, the use of saline water for common quality of fresh water in arid and semi-arid regions); (ii)
irrigation is a common practice. While vetiver clearly responded to EC 3 dS/m and SAR 4; and (iii) EC 6 dS/m and SAR 4. The latter
irrigation under Mediterranean conditions (Dudai et al., 2006), its two EC values were obtained by adding NaCl þ CaCl2 to the irri-
nutritional requirements as well as its sensitivity to salinity under gation water. In all the salinity treatments, the contribution of
irrigation and fertigation have been much less studied. Likewise, the added fertilizers to the EC and SAR of the waters was not
the interactions between fertilization and salinity and their effects considered.
on vetiver growth are unknown. The plants were irrigated to excess four times a day, such that
Deifel et al. (2006) grew eight perennial grass species in a sand- w35% of the irrigation water drained as leachate, thereby removing
culture system and irrigated them with waters dominated by NaCl excess salt from the pot. Therefore, salinity levels in the root zone in
with electrical conductivity (EC) values ranging from 1.4 to 38 dS/ the different treatments were most likely similar to that of the
m. All the plants in all the salinity treatments in this experiment irrigation waters. Plant height and the number of sprouts in each
were fertilized identically. Vetiver was found to have a moderate pot were determined at various dates throughout the growing
tolerance for salinity. Increasing the EC to 10 dS/m decreased the season. Vetiver height was determined as the length of the longest
fresh foliage biomass by w40% in the 1st harvest and by w50% in leaf in each plant.
the 2nd harvest. They concluded that this decrease in the foliage Transpiration rates of the plants in some fertilizer and salinity
biomass was not due to an accumulation of Na in the plant tissues treatments were determined at four different dates during the
or a decrease of Ca uptake by the plants as a result of NaCl increases growing season by weighing. For these measurements, the
in the irrigation water. plants were irrigated at 7:00 o’clock, the upper surface area of
Klomjek and Nitisoravut (2005) used eight different plant each pot around the plant was covered by aluminum foil, the
species, including vetiver, to remove pollutants from saline pots were left to drain from the excess water for 2 h, and then
wastewater (mostly NaCl) with EC ranging from 14 to 16 dS/m in weighed. After 5 h of transpiration, each pot was weighed again,
wetlands in Thailand. Vetiver was found to be intolerant of the and the transpiration rate was determined by calculating the
salinity conditions that existed in the studied wetland area. In differences between the pot weights dividing by the transpira-
another study, Xia (2004) used vetiver grass to rehabilitate tion duration.
a degraded ecosystem of oil shale mined lands located in south The plant foliage in each pot was harvested twice at 2 cm above
China, a region which has a marine monsoon climate. Soil quality in the soil surface: on 3 June 2004 and on 7 July, 2004, and then
the mined land was poor, with strong acidity, low water-holding washed gently in deionized water, dried at 60  C for 48 h, and total
capacity, and partial contamination by heavy metals. No irrigation weight was recorded. The dry foliage of the plants of the 2 nd
was applied in this experiment. The vetiver plants had high survival harvest (7 July, 2004) was ground to 2 mm mesh, and stored
rates under these oil shale mining conditions, and fertilizer appli- pending chemical analysis. In three of the five replications of each
cations of fishpond sludge and inorganic N:P:K fertilizer applied treatment, the total content of Ca, Mg, Na, N, P, and K, and the
prior to cultivating of the plants increased significantly the plants concentrations of soluble Cl and N–NO3 in the plant foliage were
biomass and tiller number. determined. Samples of the dry plant foliage were analyzed for
Since information on irrigation and fertilization is necessary for determining Ca, Mg, Na, N, P, and K by ashing 0.25 g of each sample
economical crop production in arid and semi-arid regions, one in a furnace at 600  C for 5 h. Five mL of 1 M HCl and 5 mL of 1 M
objective of the present study was to determine the response of HNO3 were added to the cooled ash, and the solution was filtered
vetiver plant to fertilization (fertigation). A second objective was to after 15 min and analyzed. The total N and P content in the plant
study the effect of salinity on vetiver growth and development, as foliage was determined by wet ashing of 0.1 g of the dry plant
the problem of salinity is of prime importance in arid regions. In foliage with 2 mL of 1 M H2SO4 at 260  C on hot plate and addition
addition, the interactions between fertilization and salinity on of several drops of H2O2. The concentrations of soluble Cl and NO 3
vetiver growth were studied. in the plant samples were analyzed after aqueous extraction of
0.25 g of dried and ground plant material in 25 mL of distilled
2. Materials and methods water. Ca and Mg were determined using atomic absorption, the Na
and K using flame spectrophotometer with the appropriate filters
The experiment was conducted in a heated greenhouse at the used for each element, the N and P by an auto-analyzer, and the Cl
Newe Ya’ar Research Center, ARO in northern Israel. The vetiver by chloride meter.
plants used in the present study developed from shoots that had The data were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) (SAS
been obtained by splitting mother plants. Rooted vetiver shoots Institute, 1990). Separation of means was subjected to Tukey’s
were planted on 24 February 2004 in 10-L pots containing Perlite Honestly Significant Difference test, with a significance level of
no. 2 (Agrical, Habonim, Israel), one plant per pot. The combined 0.05. Regression analysis was conducted to identify relationships
effects of nutrients and salinity on growth and development of between some measured parameters.
Author's personal copy

M. Edelstein et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 91 (2009) 215–221 217

3. Results The number of sprouts per plant in two sampling dates under
irrigation with fresh water is shown in Table 1. The maximum
In order to determine the response of vetiver to fertilization, the number of sprouts per plant was obtained with the 2 mL/L fertilizer
effects of different fertilizer levels in the irrigation water on growth level for the two sampling dates, when this difference was more
of the plants were determined. Fresh water with low salinity pronounce on 3 June 2004 than on 29 April 2004 (Table 1). More-
(EC w1 dS/m), which is a common quality of fresh water in arid and over, the number of sprouts on 3 June 2004 was three to four times
semi-arid regions, was used for irrigation. Total dry foliage weight higher than on 29 April 2004 for the three fertilizer treatments
of vetiver plant for two harvests and the plants height at different (Table 1).
dates for three fertilizer treatments are presented in Figs. 1A,B, Transpiration rates of whole vetiver plants as a function of
respectively. The 2 mL/L fertilizer treatment, which contained 118, fertilizer concentration in the irrigation of fresh water at different
15.2, and 72.2 mg/L N, P and K, respectively, was the optimal dates are presented in Fig. 2. The highest transpiration rates per
fertilizer level for obtaining maximum total dry weight of plant plant were found at 2 mL/L fertilizer level, and increased sharply
foliage in both harvests (Fig. 1A). No significant differences in plant with time (Fig. 2). In contrast, the transpiration rates per plant for
height were observed between the 1 and 4 mL/L fertilizer treat- the 1 and 4 mL/L fertilizer treatments were lower and their increase
ments for the 1st harvest or among all three fertilizer treatments with time was limited (Fig. 2). These differences in transpiration
after the 1st harvest (Fig. 1B). Therefore, one regression line was rates were most likely a result of the differences in plant foliage
plotted for the plant height data in the 1 and 4 mL/L fertilizer weight (Fig. 1) in the various fertilizer treatments and measuring
treatments before the 1st harvest and another line for the three dates.
fertilizer treatments after the 1st harvest (Fig. 1B). The elongation The inhibited growth of the vetiver plants in the 1 mL/L fertilizer
rate (the slope of the regression lines) of the longest leaf of the treatment using fresh water irrigation (Figs. 1 and 2 and Table 1)
different plants in the three fertilizer treatments was higher after was presumably a result of a nutrient deficiency that decreased the
the 1st harvest (Fig. 1B). The average slope of the regression lines foliage biomass growth of the plants. In contrast, the low growth of
before and after the 1st harvest was <1.6 and 3.9 cm/day, respec- the plants in the high fertilizer concentration (4 mL/L) could be
tively. Plant heights for the 2 mL/L fertilizer treatment were a result of the high EC in the irrigation water caused by the high
significantly higher than the other two fertilizer treatments from concentration of the fertilizers in the water in this treatment. The
30 days after planting until the 1st harvest (Fig. 1B). The expo- average EC of the fresh water in the 1, 2, and 4 mL/L fertilizer
nential increase of the plant height in the 1 and 4 mL/L fertilizer treatments was 1.6, 1.8, and 2.6 dS/m, respectively. However, in
treatments before the 1st harvest (Fig. 1B) indicated that a delay in spite of the relatively high EC in the 4 mL/L fertilizer treatment, this
the growth of the vetiver plants occurred during the beginning of can not be the cause for the reduction of the plant growth in
the growing season in these two fertilizer treatments. this treatment (Fig. 1 and Table 1). This is because higher EC than
in the irrigation water of 4 mL/L fertilizer treatment did not
decrease the growth of the vetiver plant as described below.
A 200 Another factor that could be the cause for the reduction of the plant
A
Harvest growth in 4 mL/L fertilizer treatment is a high concentration of
160 a specific nutrient in the root zone that could be toxic to the plant.
Dry weight, g/plant

1st
2nd These issues of low and high nutrients concentrations and their
120 B A
effects on plants growth are discussed in detail below.
B The response of vetiver to salinity was evaluated at the inter-
80
B mediate fertilizer concentration (2 mL/L), which was found as the
40
B optimal fertilizer level (Figs. 1 and 2 and Table 2). The average daily
accumulation of foliage dry weight (the average growing rate)
0 between planting and the 1st harvest (1st growing period) and
0 1 2 3 4 between the 1st and the 2nd harvest (2nd growing period) for
Fertilizer concentration, mL/L 2 mL/L fertilizer treatment are presented in Fig. 3 as functions of the
EC in the irrigation water. Plant growth rate during the 1st growing
B 1st harvest 2nd harvest period was significantly lower than the 2nd growing period for the
three EC values (Fig. 3). Possible causes for these differences in
y = 1.61x growth rates between the two growing periods could be: (i) the
160 Fertilizer r 2 = 0.97* average root system of the vetiver plants were bigger in the 2nd
concentration, mL/L
growing period as compared to the 1st one, supplying more water
Plant height, cm

120 1
2 and nutrients for foliage development during the 2nd growing
4 period; (ii) plants during the 1st growing period were not yet at the
80
0.02x
y = 25.4e
40 r 2 = 0.98*
y = 3.94x-406.7
r2 = 0.93* Table 1
0 Number of sprouts per vetiver plant at two measuring dates under irrigation with
0 30 60 90 120 150 fresh water with three fertilizer concentrations.
Days after planting
Measuring date Fertilizer concentration, mL/L
Fig. 1. Total dry foliage weight of vetiver plants in two harvests as functions of 1 2 4
fertilizer concentration in fresh water irrigation (A) and the height of the plants at
29 April, 2004 8  1.9 Aa* 8.5  1.5 Aa 7  1.1 Aa
different days after planting for the three fertilizer treatments (B). Different upper and
3 June, 2004 24.8  2.81 ABb 41.2  4.83 Ab 23  5.67 Bb
lower case letters in A indicated statistically significant (at 0.05 level) differences
between the fertilizer concentrations in each sampling date, and between the *Different upper and lower case letters indicated statistically significant (at 0.05
sampling dates in each fertilizer concentrations, respectively. Vertical bars in B indicate level) differences between the fertilizer concentrations in each sampling date, and
standard error. between the sampling date in each fertilizer concentrations, respectively.
Author's personal copy

218 M. Edelstein et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 91 (2009) 215–221

160 Measuring date

Growing rate of plant foliage,


Aa
Transpiration rates, g/plant/h

29 April
Aa 1st growing period
11 May 4 Aa
Aa
120 24 May 2nd growing period
3 June

g/plant/day
80 Ab
Ba Ba
Ba Ba 2
Aa Ab Ab
Bab Ab
40 Aa
Bb Bb Bb

0 0
1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Fertilizer concentration, mL/L
Electrical conductivity of the irrigation water, ds/m
Fig. 2. Transpiration rates of whole vetiver plants as a function of fertilizer concen-
Fig. 3. Average growth rate of plant foliage (average daily accumulation of foliage dry
tration in fresh water irrigation at different measuring dates. Different upper and lower
weight) between planting and 1st harvest (1st growing period) and between 1st and
case letters indicated statistically significant (at 0.05 level) differences between the
2nd harvest (2nd growing period) as a function of electrical conductivity (EC) in the
fertilizer concentrations at each measuring date, and between the measuring dates in
irrigation water for 2 mL/L fertilizer treatment. Different upper and lower case letters
each fertilizer concentration, respectively. Vertical bars indicate standard error.
indicated statistically significant (at 0.05 level) differences between the EC values in
the irrigation water in each growing period, and between the growing periods in each
EC, respectively. Vertical bars indicate standard error.
phase of linear growth rate; and (iii) air temperatures during the
2nd growing period (Dudai et al., 2006).
the effect of salinity on the capability of the plant tissues to tran-
No significant differences were observed in plant growth rate
spire regardless of the total size of plant foliage, the specific tran-
between an EC of 1 and 3 dS/m in the irrigation water in both
spiration rate (Ts) should be calculated by dividing the transpiration
growing periods (Fig. 3). In contrast, an increase of the EC to 6 dS/m
rate by the surface area of the plant foliage using Eq. (1).
decreased significantly the growth rate in both growing periods.
Mass and Hoffman (1977) defined two main parameters that T
describe the sensitivity of the plant to salinity: (i) the salinity Ts ¼ (1)
SLA,DW
threshold (the maximum EC in the soil solution that does not cause
where, T is transpiration rate for the whole plant per unit of time,
a significant yield reduction); and (ii) the relative productivity
SLA is a specific leaf area of the measured plant (the surface area of
decrease (yield decrease per unit salinity increase). The results in
the leaves of the whole plant per dry weight unit), and DW is dry
Fig. 3 suggest that the salinity threshold value for vetiver is
weight of the all leaves.
between 3 and 6 dS/m.
However, because the SLA could not be measured without
The effect of salinity in the irrigation water on transpiration of
destruction of the plant, the Ts in the present study was estimated
the vetiver plants, when the fertilizer treatment was 2 mL/L is
by using Eq. (2).
presented in Fig. 4. At the end of the growing period (3 June 2004),
a significant linear decrease in the transpiration rate (the transpi- T
ration of the whole plant during 1 h) occurred with an increase of Tes ¼ (2)
Ph Ns
EC in the irrigation water (Fig. 4A). In contrast, on the other
measuring dates, the transpiration rate did not differ significantly where, Tes is estimated value of the specific transpiration rate, Ph is
when the EC increased from 1 to 3 dS/m, but decreased significantly the plant height, and Ns is the number of sprouts per plant. It is
when the EC increased to 6 dS/m. (Fig. 4A). A positive correlation assumed that the product Ph $ Ns is positively correlated with the
exists, in general, between the transpiration rate of a plant and its total surface area of the leaves per plant.
total biomass (e.g., Childs and Hanks, 1975). Hence, the differences The Tes values of the vetiver plant as a function of the EC in the
in the transpiration rates of vetiver plants at the various EC values irrigation water are presented in Fig. 4B for two measuring dates
of irrigation water (Fig. 4A) could be a result of the differences in and fertilizer treatment of 2 mL/L. The Tes values on 29 April 2004
the total biomass of these plants. Therefore, in order to determine were significantly higher than on 3 June 2004 for the three EC

Table 2
Total element content of plant foliage irrigated with waters with three electrical conductivity (EC) levels and three fertilizer concentrations.

Fertilizer Total element content of plant foliage


concentrations
Ca Mg Na N K
mL/L g/kg
EC 1 dS/m
1 5.23  0.67 3.07  0.39 4.08  1.35 15.62  1.26 34.29  0.87
2 5.79  0.7 3.12  0.29 3.32  1.17 14.27  2.71 33.54  3.55
4 5.92  3.33 2.77  0.51 3.91  0.53 15.94  2.15 32.54  5.0
EC 3 dS/m
1 4.88  1.67 2.56  0.52 3.15  0.15 14.68  0.86 32.54  2.75
2 5.89  2.09 2.35  0.53 4.00  2.2 14.49  0.86 35.30  3.0
4 5.87  1.61 1.97  0.12 3.91  1.7 15.95  1.48 32.54  0.66
EC 6 dS/m
1 7.01  1.38 2.24  0.14 3.57  1.17 13.84  0.84 30.54  2.18
2 4.99  1.55 2.19  0.28 2.81  0.44 15.09  1.05 31.79  2.15
4 6.40  2.51 2.72  1.05 4.51  0.64 14.37  0.49 34.54  0.75

The numbers follow the  standard error.


Author's personal copy

M. Edelstein et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 91 (2009) 215–221 219

A Measuring date
A Aa
160 10
Aa 29 April Ba
Transpiration rates, g/plant/h

140 11 May
8

P content, g/kg
120 Aa Aa 24 May Ab
Ab Ca
3 June
100 6 Ab
Bab Ab
80 Abc
Ab 4 Bc
60 Cc
Ba
Ab Ac 2
40 Bab
Cab
20 Ab 0
0
B
B 16 Aa

Cl-concentration, g/kg
Aa
100 ABa
Specific transpiration rate, mg/h

Aa
12 Aa Aa Ab
80 Ba
ABa
Ba
Ba
8
60 Ba
Fertilizer concentration, mL/L
1
40 4
2
Ab Ab 4
20 Ab
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 Electrical conductivity of irrigation water, ds/m
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Electrical conductivity in the irrigation water, ds/m Fig. 5. Average content of P (A) and soluble concentration of Cl (B) in plant foliage as
a function of the electrical conductivity (EC) in the irrigation water for three fertilizer
Fig. 4. Transpiration rate (A) and specific transpiration rate (B) as functions of elec- treatments. Different upper and lower case letters indicated statistically significant (at
trical conductivity (EC) in the irrigation water for 2 mL/L fertilizer treatment and 0.05 level) differences between the EC values in the irrigation water in each fertilizer
different measuring dates. Different upper and lower case letters indicated statistically treatment, and between the fertilizer treatments in each EC, respectively. Vertical bars
significant (at 0.05 level) differences between the EC values in the irrigation water in indicate standard error.
each measuring date, and between the measuring dates in each EC, respectively.
Vertical bars indicate standard error. contrast, significant changes in the P content and soluble Cl
concentration in the plant foliage were found in some of the
treatments (Fig. 5).
values (Fig. 4B). Lower Tes values in the older plants probably
occurred for two major reasons: (i) the overlap between the leaves 4. Discussion
increased as the plants become older, which, in turn, decreased the
leaf surface area that was exposed to transpiration; and (ii) aging The effects of the two parameters, fertilization and salinity, on
leaves in the older plants have a reduced transpiration capability. the growth of vetiver could interact, namely, the response of the
An increase in EC of the irrigation water decreased the Tes values plants to salinity may depend on nutrition, and the salinity could
on 29 April 2004, while no significant effect of the EC in the irri- cause disorders in nutrients absorption by the plant. The total dry
gation water on the Tes values was observed on 3 June 2004 foliage biomass of the vetiver plants as functions of the EC values in
(Fig. 4B). The effects of salinity on plant growth and development the irrigation water for the three fertilizer treatments are presented
could be a result of two main factors (Bresler et al., 1982): (i) an in Fig. 6. Significant effects of some fertilizer treatments on foliage
osmotic factor – increasing the electrolyte concentration in the root biomass were found when the EC of the irrigation water was 1 and
zone enhances the osmotic potential (the absolute value) of the 3 dS/m, but no significant effects were found when the EC was 6 dS/
water, which decrease the water availability to the plant; and (ii) m (Fig. 6). This indicated that there were interactions between
specific ion effects – accumulation of specific ions, Cl and Naþ in
400
particular, which may be toxic to the plant and cause physiological
damage to these tissues, resulting in a reduced transpiration rate. In
Total dry weight, g/plant

the early growing stage of plants, the accumulation of specific ions Aa Aa


300
in their tissues is expected to be low (Munns and Tester 2008), and Ab
therefore, the decrease of Tes with an increase of EC in the irrigation Ab Aa
200
water in 29 April 2004 (Fig. 4B) was mainly a result of the osmotic Ab
Aa
factor. In contrast, in the late growing stage of the plants, the Ab Fertilizer concentration, mL/L
Ba
accumulation of specific ions in the plant tissues could be high 100 1
2
enough to cause damages to the plant and to decrease the capa- 4
bility of the plant tissues to transpire (Munns and Tester, 2008).
0
However, in the late growing stage of the vetiver plants (3 June 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
2004) no significant effect of the salinity on Tes was found (Fig. 4B). Electrical conductivity of the irrigation water, ds/m
The average content of Ca, Mg, Na, N, and K in the foliage plants
for the three fertilizer treatments and three EC levels in the irri- Fig. 6. Total dry foliage biomass of vetiver plants as a function of electrical conduc-
tivity (EC) in the irrigation water for three fertilizer treatments. Different upper and
gation water are presented in Table 2. No significant differences lower case letters indicated statistically significant (at 0.05 level) differences between
were found in the content of all these elements in the plant foliage the EC values in the irrigation water in each fertilizer treatment, and between the
in the different fertilizer and salinity treatments (Table 2). In fertilizer treatments in each EC, respectively. Vertical bars indicate standard error.
Author's personal copy

220 M. Edelstein et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 91 (2009) 215–221

fertilization and salinity on the growth of vetiver plants. These treatment when the EC in the irrigation water increased to 6 dS/m
interactions between the fertilization and salinity on the vetiver (Fig. 6) was most likely a result of an increase in the osmotic
growth could be a result of differences in absorption and accu- potential of the irrigation water and the Cl concentration in the
mulation of the various elements in vetiver plant tissues. plant foliage in this treatment (Fig. 5B).
In spite of the increase of Na concentration in irrigation water In the 4 mL/L fertilizer treatment with an EC of 1 and 3 dS/m in
from 46 to 140.8 mg/L when the water EC increased from 1 to the irrigation water, the EC values were below the salinity threshold
6 dS/m, no significant differences in total Na content in plant foliage for vetiver, and the Cl concentration in the plant foliage was low
were observed (Table 2). This indicated that the root system of the (Fig. 5B). Hence, at these EC values, the significantly lower dry
vetiver plants excluded Na, and consequently, a similar Na content foliage biomass in the 4 mL/L rather than the 2 mL/L fertilizer
(w3.7 g/kg) accumulated in the plant foliage regardless of the Na treatment (Fig. 6) presumably was due to the high P content
concentration in the irrigation water. Similar results were found by (>8.66 g/kg) in plant foliage in the 4 mL/L fertilizer
Deifel et al. (2006), which indicated that the Na content in vetiver treatment (Fig. 5A). These high P contents in the 4 mL/L fertilizer
plant foliage started to increase only when the NaCl salinity in the treatment were, probably, toxic to the plants, and led to a signifi-
irrigation water was above EC w20 dS/m. Moreover, the different cant decrease the foliage biomass in these treatments (Fig. 6).
salinity levels and nutrients concentrations in the irrigation waters Phosphorus is a major plant nutrient required for nucleic acid
had no significant effects on the Ca and Mg contents in the plant production. These acids are involved in energy transfer, many
foliage (Table 2). metabolic processes, photosynthesis, and respiration. However,
An increase of N from 59 to 236 mg/L and of K from 36.1 to excess phosphorus concentrations in the plant tissues may have
144.4 mg/L in the irrigation water did not increase significantly the toxic effects (Shane et al., 2004). P toxicity symptoms include
total content of theses elements in plant foliage at the three salinity reduced growth, leaf chlorosis and necrosis (Shane and Lambers,
levels (Table 2). It can be concluded from these results that the 2006), and increased susceptibility to heat damage resulting in
concentrations of N and K in the irrigation water in the lowest drying of leaf tips (Hawkins et al., 2007). Groves and Keraitis (1976)
fertilizer treatment (1 mL/L) was sufficient to obtain the desirable and Handreck (1991) found that P concentrations in the plant
content of these elements in vetiver foliage. This conclusion was tissues ranging from 1 to 10 g/kg were associated with P toxicity
supported by observation that no deficiency symptoms of these symptoms in some plant species. A list of plants with potential
elements were observed in the plant foliage. Moreover, the high tissue P toxicity was published by Shane et al. (2004). The mech-
salinity levels in the irrigation water had no significant effects on N anism of P toxicity is not well known. Dai et al. (1999) suggested
and K absorption by vetiver (Table 2). However, a significant, that P toxicity in tomatoes is related to over expression of hexoki-
negative linear regression (Y ¼ 1.6  0.08X, r2 ¼ 0.6) between nase, photosynthetic, and carbon, and sugar metabolism, resulting
soluble N–NO3 (Y) and soluble Cl (X) concentrations in the plant in inhibited growth. Silber et al. (2002) showed that plant P
foliage was found for all of the fertilizer and salinity treatments. concentration was highly correlated with hexose phosphate accu-
Nevertheless, this N–NO3 decrease had no effect on the total N mulation and toxic symptoms in Verticordia plumose. P toxicity may
content in the plant foliage (Table 2). also be connected to phosphorus–zinc interactions in the plant
The differences in foliage biomass of vetiver plants in the (Parker et al., 1992; Silber et al., 2002). It was shown that high rates
various treatments (Fig. 6) could be a result of differences in P and of P uptake by wheat depressed Zn uptake and caused Zn deficiency
Cl concentrations (Fig. 5) and total electrolyte concentration in the (Zhu et al., 2001).
irrigation water in the various treatments. In the lowest fertilizer Vetiver is not in the above mentioned list of plants that are
treatment (1 mL/L), the dry foliage biomass of the vetiver plants sensitive to P toxicity (Shane et al., 2004), probably because few
was low for all the saline levels of the irrigation water compared to studies on vetiver nutrition have been published, and the response
the maximum foliage biomass that was observed in the 1 dS/m of vetiver to P fertilization is much less known. The P concentra-
irrigation water and 2 mL/L fertilizer treatment (Fig. 6). The low dry tions in the foliage of the vetiver plants in the 4 mL/L fertilizer
biomass in this fertilizer treatment was likely a result of P defi- treatment (Fig. 5A) are in the range of the P levels in plant leaves
ciency in the irrigation water (Fig. 5A); the total P content in that are sensitive to P toxicity (Parker et al., 1992; Silber et al., 2002;
the plant foliage in this fertilizer treatment ranged from 3.36 to Shane and Lambers, 2006). These results suggest that vetiver may
6.12 g/kg. An increase in EC in the irrigation water from 1 to 6 dS/m be sensitive to excess P. However, it should be noted that the
in this fertilizer treatment resulted in a significant decrease of total optimal P concentration in the vetiver foliage was only slightly
P content in the plant foliage (Fig. 5A). However, no significant lower than the toxic levels (Figs. 5 and 6). Therefore, further study is
decrease in the dry foliage biomass of the vetiver plants was needed to clarify this issue.
observed with the increased EC in the irrigation water in this In the fertilizer treatment of 4 mL/L, an increase in EC of the
fertilizer treatment (Fig. 6). These results (Figs. 5A and 6) suggest irrigation water to 6 dS/m decreased significantly the P content in
that in the 1 mL/L fertilizer treatment, the low P content of 6.12 g/ the plant foliage to 6.64 g/kg, which was close to the optimum
kg in the plant foliage was the limiting factor that controlled the values that were obtained in the fertilizer treatment of 2 mL/L
production of foliage biomass, and that an increase in salinity in (Fig. 5A). However, this increase in EC significantly increased the Cl
the irrigation water and a further decrease of P content in the plant concentration in plant foliage to 15.3 g/kg (Fig. 5B). Consequently,
foliage had no significant, additional effect on foliage biomass of the the low foliage biomass in the fertilizer treatment of 4 mL/L and EC
vetiver plants (Figs. 5A and 6). 6 dS/m in the irrigation water (Fig. 6) was mainly due to an increase
In the 2 mL/L fertilizer treatment with an EC of 1 and 3 dS/m in in osmotic potential of the irrigation water and a ‘specific ion effect’
the irrigation water, the P content in plant foliage was 6.51 and of high Cl concentration in the plant foliage of this treatment.
6.22 g/kg, respectively (Fig. 5A), which was probably the optimum
value. Therefore, at this P level and an EC below the salinity 5. Summary and conclusions
threshold (EC <3 dS/m), the dry foliage biomass was the highest
(>311 g/plant) (Fig. 6). An increase in EC in the irrigation water 1. Similar contents of w3.7 g/kg Na, w5.77 g/kg Ca and w2.55
from 3 to 6 dS/m in the 2 mL/L fertilizer treatment did not decrease g/kg Mg were found in the foliage of all vetiver plants irrigated
significantly the P content in plant foliage (Fig. 5A). Hence, the with different fertilizer and salinity levels. This indicated that:
significant decrease of dry foliage biomass in this fertilizer (i) the vetiver root system excludes Na absorption under high
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M. Edelstein et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 91 (2009) 215–221 221

Na concentrations in the irrigation water; and (ii) the different Dai, N., Schaffer, A., Petreikov, M., Shahak, Y., Giller, Y., Ratner, K., Levine, A.,
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