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ISSN : 1598-5504(Print)
ISSN : 2383-8272(Online)
Journal of Agriculture & Life Science Vol.52 No.6 pp.13-25

Evaluation of Growth Characteristics and Groundwater Levels for the Growth and Development of Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) and Adzuki bean(Vigna anaularis L.)

Hee-La Ryu,Arjun Adhikari,Sang-Mo Kang,Yoon-Ha Kim,In-Jung Lee*
School of Applied Biosciences, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, 41566, Korea
*Corresponding author: In-Jung Lee
Tel: +82-53-950-5708
Fax: +82-53-958-6880
June 6, 2018 October 10, 2018 October 12, 2018


Appropriate water level is the primary factor for the optimal yield of crop plants. The required water level varies according to the variety of the crops. In the present study, we investigated the optimum requirement of groundwater level(GWL) to grow sorghum and adzuki bean under paddy field soil. Here, we cultivated sorghum and adzuki bean using lysimeter filled with paddy soil under GWL 0 cm(NT) and GWL(20, 40 cm) where GWL 20 cm is maintained as a waterlogging condition. The plant growth promoting attributes were measured on the first day after treatment(0 DAT), 10 DAT and 20 DAT. The results showed that the growth parameter such as shoot length, leaf length, leaf width, and stem thickness of both sorghum and adzuki bean were constantly increased and were found higher at GWL 40 cm(except stem thickness and leaf width in sorghum at 20 DAT). The physiological parameters such as chlorophyll content and stomatal conductance were also found higher at GWL 40 cm in all DAT. In addition, the elements like P and K contents in adzuki bean, and Ca content in sorghum were constantly increased and was found higher in GWL 40 cm at all DAT. These results suggest that the GWL of 40 cm is appropriate for production of sorghum and adzuki bean especially in case of paddy soil.


    Rural Development Administration


    Ground-water is the ultimate source of freshwater and about one-third of groundwater is utilized for plant production that benefits mankind(Howell & Terry, 2001). Groundwater level plays an important role in water use efficiency in agriculture and is the largest storage of fresh water. Additionally, groundwater is mostly less prone to environmental pollutants than surface water and play a vital role in sustaining human life and ecosystem(Taylor et al., 2013). The increasing trend of climate change has a great influence on the hydrological cycle, which adversely affecting water level on earth(Kang et al., 2009). The change in water level leads to affect its availability, plants productivity and soil water balance(Kang et al., 2009).

    Global climate change has been causing various environmental disasters that directly affect the agricultural land by declination in soil quality, pollution and water eutrophication(Fan et al., 2011). Heavy precipitation is one of the main cause of flooding, which leads to a waterlogged condition and also adversely affecting the crop productivity all over the world(Bailey-Serres & Voesenek, 2008;Striker, 2012). Similarly, tropical and subtropical regions receive excessive rainfall that resulted in increased water levels(Ashraf, 2012). Groundwater level play a key role on sustaining the agriculture, it also determines the optimum flood and drought condition. Excess water level denotes waterlogging, while lower level determines drought. However optimum groundwater level plays a major role in sustainable agriculture production.

    Plant growth and development is deleteriously affected by excessive or depleted water levels. For example in waterlogged condition, (a) hypoxia prevailed due to the limited flux of oxygen and continuous respiration of roots and rhizospheric microorganisms leads to a condition known as (b) anoxia where oxygen is not available and respiration get ceased, completely(Striker, 2012;Taiz et al., 2015). The secondary effects of hypoxic conditions causes a reduction in respiration rate, fermentative metabolism, toxin production through anaerobic microbes, insufficient ATP production, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and closing of stomata(Taiz et al., 2015). Huber et al.(2008) reported that the waterlogged condition changes the traits like porosity, leaf area, plasticity in secondary root formation of the plants. Similarly, it was also noticed that with the increase in the waterlogged duration there is a progressive decrease in soil redox potential and accumulation of toxic compounds like sulfides, lactic acid, ethanol, acetic acid, lactic acid, formic acid and acetaldehyde (Fiedler et al., 2007). The recovery of plants from the hypoxic condition may be hazardous with the immediate increase in O2 level in the rhizospheric region which may lead to produce ROS and cause oxidative damage to the root cells(Taiz et al., 2015).

    Groundwater level(GWL) is a fundamental source of global water and plays a central part in maintaining food security oriented through extreme drought and flood(Taylor et al., 2013). The groundwater level plays a key role in exploring the diversity of plants (Chen et al., 2006). Excess water levels causes waterlogging and badly affect the normal growth and development of the plant like sorghum(Promkhambut et al., 2010) and soybean(Linkemer et al., 1998).

    Sorghum is the fifth important drought tolerant cereal crop which is also reported as a potential source of energy and mostly used in the food insecure regions of the world(Mekbib, 2007;Soudek et al., 2014). The sorghum is resistant to various abiotic stress like heat, drought and toxic pollution (Soudek et al., 2014). Additionally, it has been reported for multiple health benefits due to the high level of multiple polyphenols content(Rhodes & Kresovich, 2016). Likewise, adzuki beans are also known as small red beans, and are the cultivars of Vigna angularis(Wild.) Ohwi and Ohashi spice(Gohara et al., 2016). The crop is mostly consumed in Korea, Japan, and China as a folk medicine(Kim et al., 2015). It is rich in polyphenols like quercetin, pro-anthocyanidins(Sato et al., 2008) and renowned for a various medicinal role against different diseases(Kim et al., 2015). Despite the numerous benefits of sorghum and adzuki bean the determination of appropriate water level for their optimum production lacks sufficient information.

    The Korea National Statistical Office(KOSIS, 2016) reported that the rice productivity of Korea have been increased from 456 kg/10a in 1985 to 539 kg/10a in 2016. Meanwhile, the per capita annual rice consumption has been declined from 128.1 kg in 1985 to 61.9 kg in 2016. The productivity of adzuki bean increased from 103 kg/10a in 1985 to 115 kg/10a in 2016. However, the cultivation area has been reduced up to 85% by 2016 as compared to 1985. Likewise, the productivity of sorghum increased up to 166 kg/10a by 2009 which was 118 kg/10a in 1985. Moreover, the annual consumption of sorghum per household raised to 1.2 kg by 2016 which was 0.4 kg in 1985 and adzuki bean raised to 3.4 kg 2016 which was 2.6 kg in 1985. Therefore, there exist a decreasing trend in the rate of rice consumption and increasing trend of adzuki bean and sorghum consumption from 1985 to 2016 in Korea.

    In the recent study about water requirement in upland crops in Korea, it was reported that the climate change has influenced the rise in temperature as well as precipitation rate in Korea. However, increases in precipitation have no effect on the irrigation requirement of agriculture crops(Hong et al., 2016). It has been reported that excess soil water level is extremely detrimental in case of adzuki bean production, while sorghum was reported as suitable crop to grow on paddy soil(Chun et al., 2016). The scarcity of water is a prime limiting factor for agriculture production(Faramarzi et al., 2010).

    In the present study, we used lysimeter to determine the appropriate GWL for crop plants sorghum and adzuki bean and evaluated its growth characteristics. On the basis of the decreasing rice consumption rate in Korea, we have selected the upland crops sorghum and adzuki beans in paddy soil in order to investigate the possibility of sorghum and adzuki beans as crops to replace rice grown in paddy soil. This research is a pilot testing to check the growth performance of sorghum and adzuki bean in the paddy soil. Thus, the present study focused to identify the fundamental prerequisite of sorghum and adzuki bean for commercial implication purpose in a paddy soil.

    Materials and Methods

    1 Experimental design

    The simple cylindrical lysimeter with a diameter of 41 cm, height 10 cm and a total volume of 90 L was adjusted with GWL and used for the experiment(Fig. 1). The medium-sized gravel was laid in the bottom up to the height of 10 cm. The lysimeter was connected to a water tank in which the water flows through the gravel laid in the bottom of the soil. The inside of the lysimeter was wrapped with fabric gauze to prevent the soil release from the supply port. The paddy field was filled above the gravel layer. To maintain the uniformity of the soil volume density, the soil was saturated with water and naturally drained 5 times per lysimeter. Each treatment was replicated with four lysimeter. To block overheat and to transmit light, silver lime meter was wrapped with an aluminum foil. The lysimeter was maintained with the GWL(0, 20 or 40) cm. The GWL 0 cm, is considered as no treatment(NT). The flow of water was maintained by connecting the surface and gravel layer of lysimeter to the water tank(Fig. 2).

    2 Experiment location

    The field experiments were started in the summer June-July, (2017) in the research station of Kyungpook National University, Daegu. The temperature was maintained at around 30±2℃. To maintain the equilibrium between temperature and humidity the side windows of the greenhouse were left open.

    3 pH and electrical conductivity determination

    The pH was measured according to the method previously described by Kalra(1995), and electrical conductivity(EC) was measured by the method described by Jackson(1967). All the measurement were taken before the experiment. The conductivity meter(YSI Model 32, USA) was used to measure EC which was calibrated at 0.014 dS m−1 and 0.01 M KCl.

    4 Quantification of elements in paddy field and plants

    The method followed by Bilal et al.(2017) was used to quantify the element content in soil and plants. Briefly, 0.5 g of lyophilized sample was digested by HNO3, and were left for 12 hours at room temperature. The samples were then heated to 100℃ for 24 hours. The HNO3 was evaporated, filtered and the resultant samples were analyzed through ICP-MS(Inductively Coupled Plasma Iris Intrepid, Thermo Elemental Co., UK).

    5 Growth attributes of sorghum and adzuki beans

    Sorghum and adzuki beans were grown with GWL of 20 cm and 40 cm. After 2 weeks the plants were transplanted into the lysimeter. During the cultivation period the shoot length, leaf width, leaf length, and stem diameter were measured at the interval of 10 days.

    6 Measurement of chlorophyll content

    The chlorophyll content of leaves was measured following the method described by Butts et al. (2016). The Measurement was done on the top of the broadest leaf in each plant between 10 am to noon on every 10 days interval during the cultivation period. CCM-300 Chlorophyll Content Meter(Opti- Sciences, Hudson, NH) was used for the measurement at 0, 10 and 20 days after treatment(DAT). The device CCM-300 uses a fiber optic probe that detects the emission rate of red fluorescence(700 nm) to far-red fluorescence(735 nm).

    7 Measurement of stomatal conductance

    Stomatal conductivities were measured at 10-day intervals during the cultivation period in between 10 am to 12 pm, which is considered as the most active time for photosynthesis. The measurements were done at the youngest of a fully grown leaf by using a SC-1 leaf porometer(Decagon Devices Inc., Pullman, WA).

    8 Statistical analysis

    Statistical analysis was conducted using the R Program and the data were presented as the means±standard error(SE). The mean values were compared by Duncan’s multiple range test at p≤0.05.

    Results and Discussion

    1 Influence of ground water levels on plant growth promoting characteristics

    The exchangeable cation content of experimental soil was in the order Ca > Mg > K > Na(Table 1).

    Mostly, nutrients are available to plants in an optimum range of pH and a number of studies revealed that soil pH may also affect the availability of nutrients and its concentrations(Xu et al., 2006). While, the properties of soil also play an important role in decomposition of organic matters(Paul et al., 2001). The soil pH is associated with a reaction of soil particles that affect either the association or dissociation of various organic compounds(Xu et al., 2006). In our study, the average pH and EC of the paddy fields were 7.3 and 0.23 dS m-1, respectively. EC measurement also revealed salt concentration that affect the various growth promoting attributes, yield and quality of plants(Khalil, 2011). Several factors like time temperature and pH regulates mineral mobilization with in soil and plants(Xiao et al., 2015). These changes in the mobility of ions might have led different concentration of elements in sorghum and adzuki bean plants.

    The plant growth promoting attributes were found higher mostly at the GWL 40 cm while at the GWL 20 cm most of the growth parameter were significantly reduced. All the growth and physiological parameter of GWL 20 and 40 cm was compared with NT.

    2 Effect on shoot length

    The shoot length of both sorghum and adzuki bean(GWL 40 cm at 10 DAT) was found significantly higher, which was increased by 9% and 25% in sorghum and adzuki bean respectively as compared to NT in(Table 2). These crops showed no significant difference at 20 DAT as compared to NT. However, in GWL(20 cm at 20 DAT), shoot length was reduced in sorghum by 14% and adzuki bean by 29% as compared to NT(Fig. 3).

    3 Effect on leaf length

    The leaf length of both the crops were significantly increased in GWL 40 cm at 10 DAT, which was 14% higher in sorghum and 20% higher in adzuki bean respectively as compared to NT(Table 3). While in GWL 40 cm at 20 DAT the leaf length was significantly increased in adzuki bean by 13% with no significant difference in sorghum as compared to NT. However, in GWL 20 cm, the leaf length of sorghum showed no significant difference at 10 DAT as compared to NT, but at 20 DAT it was significantly reduced by 8% as compared to NT. Moreover, in GWL 20 cm, the leaf length of adzuki bean showed no significant difference at 10 DAT as compared to NT, but it was reduced by 26% at 20 DAT as compared to NT.

    4 Effect on leaf width

    The leaf width showed no significant difference at(GWL 40 cm at 10 DAT and 20 DAT) except by sorghum at 20 DAT which was increased by 50% as compared to 10 DAT(Table 4). Similarly, in GWL 20 cm no significant difference was judged at 10 DAT in both the sorghum and adzuki bean as compared to NT but was significantly reduced by 37% in sorghum and 30% in adzuki bean at 20 DAT as compared to NT.

    5 Effect on stem diameter

    The stem diameter of sorghum(GWL 40 cm) was increased by 16% at 10 DAT and reduced by 14% at 20 DAT, as compared to NT(Table 5). However, the stem diameter of adzuki bean showed no significant difference at both the GWL(20 and 40) cm at both(10 and 20) DAT as compared to NT. Under the GWL 20 cm the stem diameter of sorghum was reduced by 15% in 10 DAT and by 23% in 20 DAT as compared to NT.

    The excess water level is associated with the reduction of cellular O2 content that has an adverse effect on the production of arable farmland because most of the crops are unable to cope the flooding stress(Taiz et al., 2015). However, the effect on plant depends upon the genotype of plant, environmental condition, developmental stage of plant and the duration of waterlogging(Orchard & Jessop, 1984). Waterlogging induced the morphological changes through the formation of aerenchyma or establishment of hypertrophied lenticels and the formation of the adventitious roots(Ashraf, 2012). Likewise, waterlogging stress arrest the normal biochemical processes and often results in morphological alterations(Oosterhuis et al., 1990). The endogenous hormone like ethylene gets accumulated in tissue during waterlogging stress (Taiz et al., 2015) and leads to the reduction of oxidized soil to the toxic concentration(Bailey-Serres & Voesenek, 2008). In waterlogged condition dramatic reduction of O2 levels occur in rhizospheric region due to which the respiration of the roots was suppressed and fermentation was induced that results the acidification of cytosol and toxicity due to ethanol. An anaerobic condition may lead to cell death that depends within the time period of an hour to days and according to the genetic adaptation of the plant species(Taiz et al., 2015). The changes in the metabolisms might be the possible cause to change the morphological feature of the plants.

    6 Influence of the ground water levels on stomatal conductance and chlorophyll content

    In our experiment, we observed that the stomatal conductance of sorghum(GWL 20 and 40 cm) at 10 DAT showed no significant difference as compared to NT, but it was significantly increased under GWL 40 cm at 20 DAT as compared to NT. Likewise, in case of adzuki bean(GWL 20 and 40 cm) the stomatal conductance was significantly higher at 10 DAT with no significant difference at 20 DAT under both GWL 20 and 40 cm, as compared to NT(Table 6). Likewise, the chlorophyll content was found similar under GWL(20 and 40 cm) of both sorghum and adzuki bean as compared to NT(Table 7).

    The sensitivity of the stomatal conductance influences the photosynthesis in the plant(Miner et al., 2017). Likewise, chlorophyll content is the integral part of the photosynthesis in the plant(Singh & Reddy, 2014). The stomatal conductance of a plant is regulated by the activity of guard cell which activities changes with response to water status(Xu & Zhou, 2008). The stomatal closure is induced by a reduction in turgor pressure which allows the huge efflux of K+ and anions from the guard cells(Taiz et al., 2015). Moreover, it is reported that the root depth of the adzuki bean ranges(0.5-0.7) cm, and the root depth of sorghum ranges(1.0-1.5) cm in a soil(Hong et al., 2016). The root water uptake regulates the entire physiology of plant(Jackson et al., 2000). Moreover, leaf water potential, soil water potential, and concentration of ABA affects the stomatal conductance and photosynthesis( Tuzet et al., 2003;Huntingford et al., 2015).

    7 Fluctuations in calcium, phosphorus and potassium due to ground water levels

    In our study, the Ca content was found significantly higher in sorghum at GWL 40 cm at both 10 and 20 DAT(Table 8). Likewise, the P and K content of adzuki bean(GWL 40 cm) was found significantly higher at both 10 and 20 DAT. However, the mineral elements like K was significantly decreased in sorghum in GWL 20 cm at 10 DAT as compared to NT. Likewise, in GWL 20 cm the Ca content of adzuki bean was significantly reduced at both 10 DAT and 20 DAT.

    The mechanism to cope with the excess water differs according to the plant genotype. In rice, they adapt well in wet condition due to the development of gas-filled channels that form aerenchyma. However, in maize, aerenchyma formation results in the stimulation of ACC synthase and ACC oxidase and enhances the rapid ethylene production which results in programmed cell death. The formation of the aerenchyma induces rise in the cystolic Ca2+ concentration which induce ethylene signaling transduction pathway causing cell death(Taiz et al., 2015). The phenomenon of ion flow within the plant from soil depends on the Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, and K+ concentration (Jalali & Merrikhpour, 2008). The plant uses a different stress-sensing mechanism like biochemical sensing in which the Ca sense certain abiotic stress and alter Ca2+ homeostasis. Ca2+ form a Ca2+ calmodulin complex through binding with protein calmodulin which activates protein to regulate various cell processes in abiotic stresses(Neumann & Römheld, 2002;Da Silva et al., 2011). Taiz et al.(2015) revealed that the uptake of K+ should be electrically balanced by the uptake of Cl-ions. However, the intensity of mobility of nutrients determines its restoration and depletion(Neumann & Römheld, 2002). Moreover, several factors like time, temperature, and pH regulates mineral mobilization within soil and plants(Xiao et al., 2015). These changes in the mobility of ions might have led different concentration of elements in sorghum and adzuki bean plants.


    This study was supported by the Agenda Program (Project No. PJ01228603), Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea.



    Apparatus setup of the lysimeter with gravel layer at the bottom and paddy field with different water levels connected with the water tank from the bottom.


    Lysimeter diagram(A: Ground water level of 20 cm, B: Ground water level of 40 cm).


    Influence of ground water level(GWL) on the morphological appearance of the crops grown in a lysimeter(A: Sorghum, B: Adzuki bean).


    Characteristics of the experimental paddy field

    Measurement of shoot length of crops grown at different ground water levels

    Measurement of leaf length on ground water levels of crops

    Measurement of leaf width of crops grown in ground water levels

    Measurement of stem diameter on ground water levels of crops

    Measurement of stomatal conductance on ground water levels of crops

    Measurement of chlorophyll concentration on ground water levels of crops

    Ca, K and P contents of crops grown in different ground water levels


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