Yield beet cultivars under fertigation management and salinity control in a protected environment
In a protected environment, applying excess fertilizer and using water with soluble salts cause soil salinization due to the absence of lixiviation by precipitation. Among commercial vegetables, beets (Beta vulgaris L.) have good tolerance to soil salinity, being a good option for growth under these conditions. An experimental study was carried out in the municipality of Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil. The treatment consisted of a combination of the following factors: initial soil salinity (1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 dS m-1), fertigation management (traditional vs. control of ion concentration of the soil solution) and two beet cultivars (‘Early Wonder’ and ‘Itapuã’) in a 5 × 2 × 2 factorial design. A randomized block design with four replicates was adopted, totaling 80 experimental plots. The total fresh weight of aerial part and root, total dry weight of aerial part and root, and water use efficiency (WUE) were assessed. Significant differences were found between fertigation management practices and salinity levels proposed. ‘Itapuã’ showed better yield and WUE for electrical conductivity (EC) below 6 dS m-1. Under traditional fertigation, root yield response fits a linear model with a decrease of 11.365 g (‘Early Wonder’) and 11.025 g (‘Itapuã’) for each unit increase in EC. Under controlled fertigation, the best-fit model was quadratic, with maximum estimates of 248.83 g for ‘Early Wonder’ and 258.52 g for ‘Itapuã’. Controlling EC of the soil solution had a positive effect, while salinity levels above 6 dS m-1 must be avoided.