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Pakistani student looking for ways to optimize yield in dry climates

By Carol Stender
cstender@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 05/20/2013 9:33 AM

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MORRIS, Minn. — Pakistani student Adnan Bukhari is calling Morris home for six months as he studies drought stress physiology at the USDA-ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research laboratory in Morris.

He has a six-month scholarship to work on research abroad, said Bukhari, a student at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan. He is following the footsteps of a friend who also chose the Morris-based soils lab to do his research project.

Bukhari is looking at the effects of sodium metasilicate as an additive to mitigate drought stress in wheat, he said.

Crops in Pakistan are raised both on dry ground and irrigated. He's looking at the sodium metasilicate added through irrigation, being applied to the land or as a seed treatment.

Bukhari doesn't come from a farm family but says his interest in drought-tolerant crops comes from the needs his country's farmers have to grow crops in an arid climate. Like all producers, Pakistani farmers are looking for ways to optimize yield.

"The objective is to get more yield from less inputs," he said. "You can have different strategies to get more yield and the use of the sodium metasilicate is one of them."

Pakistani farmers raise beets, cotton, sugar cane and rice, he said. Camolina is another crop grown in the arid country and is one of the oilseed crops being raised at the Soils Lab.

Farmers in Pakistan are harvesting wheat now, he said. They usually grow two crops during the season.

His father, who made carpets and sold them internationally, once raised cotton. Cotton is very sensitive to water, and did not fare well, he said.

He's looking forward to working in the fields at the Soils Lab's Swan Lake Research Farm and to talk to farmers in the area about how they raise crops in the region.

Bukhari will return to Pakistan in September and complete his education. He hopes to return to the area for his post doctorate studies and research.