Growth and physiological responses to water and nutrient stress in oil palm
The research was conducted to detect changes in growth, physiology and nutrient concentration in response to two watering regimes (well-watered and water-stress conditions) and to two nutrient regimes (with or without fertilization) of oil palm. Under stress conditions, changes in plant growth, dry matter allocation, relative water content, leaf relative conductivity, leaf N, P and K concentration are usually observed. These characteristics and related parameters were determined and the experiment results are listed as follows: (1) fertilization promoted the growth of oil palm under well-watered conditions, while under water stress conditions its effects on growth was negative. The ratio of root/shoot was increased under water stress condition; (2) relative water content and chlorophyll a/b content were gradually decreased while leaf relative conductivity was increased quickly under water and nutrient stress conditions during the experiment. It is obvious that water stress had a greater influence than nutrient stress on these parameters; (3) water and nutrient stress decreased leaf nitrogen and phosphorus concentration but increased potassium concentration; the combination of water and nutrient stress made significant effects on nitrogen and phosphorus concentration, but no significant effects on potassium concentration. Moreover, deficiency of both water and nutrients in combination had the greatest impact on changes in these traits of oil palm.
Key words: Plant growth, physiology response, nutrient concentration, water stress, nutrient stress.