No tillage (NT) in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) offers a pragmatic option for resolving the time and edaphic conflicts in rice (Oryza sativa L.)-wheat cropping system (RWS). However, poor stand establishment is an issue in NT wheat, which adversely affects crop growth, grain yield, and profitability. Therefore, a 2-year field study was conducted to assess the potential role of seed priming in improving the stand establishment, grain yield, water productivity and profitability of NT and plough till (PT) wheat grown after direct seeded aerobic (conservation) and puddled transplanted flooded (conventional) rice-based systems. For seed priming, wheat seeds were soaked in aerated water (hydropriming) or solution of CaCl2 (ψs -1.25 MPa; osmopriming) for 12 h, and non-primed seeds were used as control. After harvest of rice, grown as direct seeded aerobic and puddled transplanted flooded crop, primed and non-primed wheat seeds were sown following NT and PT. In both years, stand establishment of NT wheat after direct seeded aerobic and puddled transplanted flooded rice was impeded. Nonetheless, seed priming improved the stand establishment which was visible through earliness and better uniformity of seedling emergence. Overall, primed seeds completed 50% emergence in 6.4 days, against 7.8 days taken by non-primed seeds in NT wheat. The highest emergence index (41.7) was recorded in primed seeds versus 32.0 for non-primed seeds. Improved stand establishment enhanced growth, grain yield, water productivity and profitability in NT wheat. In this regard, osmopriming was the most effective, and produced grain yield of 4.5 Mg ha-1 against 3.8 Mg ha-1 for non-primed seeds in NT wheat. Water productivity of the NT wheat grown from osmoprimed seeds was 8.72 kg ha-1 mm-1 while that from non-primed seeds was 7.21 kg ha-1 mm-1. Among the RWSs, the maximum wheat biomass was produced with PT after direct seeded aerobic rice. However, grain yield, water productivity, and profitability were the highest in NT wheat following direct seeded aerobic rice. Wheat yields grown after direct seeded aerobic rice and transplanted flooded rice were 4.4 and 4.2 Mg ha-1 respectively. Planting NT wheat after direct seeded aerobic rice provided the highest system productivity (1.80) than other RWSs. Thus, seed priming is a viable option to improve the stand establishment, grain yield, water productivity and profitability of NT wheat in the RWS. Nonetheless, osmopriming was a better option than hydropriming in this regard.
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