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Agronomic improvement of sorghum drought tolerance using film antitranspirants


Sorghum is relatively tolerant of drought, and is grown in drought-prone areas of Northern Nigeria, but as the climate changes sorghum yield suffers from drought. This project aims to examine responses of sorghum drought tolerance to film antitranspirants application. This will be achieved by evaluating responses of some physiological processes; transpiration, photosynthesis, growth and yield in droughted sorghum to some commercially available antitranspirants and some locally available oils from plant sources. Sorghum is the fifth most widely cultivated cereal crop in the world after wheat, rice, maize and barley. In recent years, researchers have produced early maturing and more drought resistant varieties of sorghum. However, these have not successfully overcome the challenges of growing rain fed sorghum, in environments characterised by water scarcity and low, and erratic distribution of rainfall which is the prevailing scenario in major sorghum producing areas of the developing world especially in Asia and Africa. Hence, there is still room for other measures for combating adverse effects of water stress in sorghum in these areas and beyond using techniques that are adaptable to rain fed crops and able to reduce water loss from the plant by decreasing transpiration and increasing plant water status thereby sustaining it through dry periods without significant yield losses due to drought. Film antitranspirants are chemical compounds derived from conifer plants, which when applied onto the plant leaf, coat the leaf surface making it less permeable to water. When sprayed on the plant leaf surfaces, the chemical forms a thin film which acts as a kind of water proof on the leaf and thus reduces water loss. Film antitranspirants have been successfully used to ameliorate drought stress in droughted wheat, oilseed rape and corn. However, regarding sorghum previous research on the effect of film antitranspirants on the growth and yield of droughted sorghum done in the USA in the early 1970’s is the only work so far reported in this area. Currently, this research is the first work evaluating the response of sorghum drought tolerance to the application of modern film forming antitranspirants and other oils. Experiments are being carried out using droughted and irrigated sorghum in glasshouses and under field conditions and measurements are being taken on stomatal conductance, chlorophyll fluorescence, chlorophyll content, carbon assimilation, leaf temperature, leaf area, green area index, yield and yield components. The results of this project aim to provide an understanding of how sorghum responds to drought in general and whether or not the yield and yield components of droughted sorghum are affected when antitranspirants are applied.


  • The work is being conducted for a PhD by Jeremiah Samaila.
  • Sorghum is grown in glasshouse and in the field under rain shelters.
  •  Treatments are assigned as droughted unsprayed, droughted sprayed, irrigated unsprayed  and irrigated sprayed.
  • Treatment droughted unsprayed is the control.
  • Drought is imposed by witholding irrigation at the sorghum growth stage most sensitive to water stress.
  •  Antitranspirants are applied on the leaves.
  •  Data are collected on stomatal conductance, photosynthesis, leaf temperature, GAI, yield and yield components.
  • Other variables are proline, wax deposition, heat shock proteins and ABA.
  •  Period of data collection; at least 30 days.
  •  Data analysed using biosciences software.

Funding Body

TET Fund, Nigeria

Lead Organisation

Harper Adams University

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