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Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), 62, 2016 (2): 62−71 DOI: 10.1515/agri-2016-0007 Original paper EFFECT OF DIFFERENT PLANT ARRANGEMENTS ON MAIZE MORPHOLOGY AND FORAGE QUALITY JANA JIRMANOVÁ, PAVEL FUKSA , JOSEF HAKL, VÁCLAV BRANT, JAROMÍR ŠANTRŮČEK Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic JIRMANOVÁ, J. ‒ FUKSA, P. ‒ HAKL, J. ‒ BRANT, V. ‒ ŠANTRŮČEK, J.: Effect of different plant arrangements on maize morphology and forage quality. Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), vol. 62, 2016, no. 2, pp. 62–71. A study was carried out in Central Bohemia to understand the effect of row spacing and stand density on plant morpho - logy, productivity and quality of silage maize in two row spacing treatments (0.70 m and 0.35 m) at two stand densities (92,000 plants/ha and 110,000 plants/ha). The results of the study showed that row spacing and stand density had no effect on plant height or weight; however, significantly higher ear ratio and dry matter content was found in narrow rows at 110,000 plants/ha. It was observed that plant morphology was affected more by the interaction between row spacing and stand density than by a single effect of tested factors. Significantly higher dry matter yield was recorded at higher stand density, but there was no row spacing × stand density interaction. Row spacing had no impact on the whole plant neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content, crude protein of stover and starch content of ear, while narrow rows resulted in almost significantly higher stover NDF content. Our results suggest that narrow rows could be advantageous for maize morphology and quality in cases where higher stand de nsity is applied. Key words: row spacing, stand density, plant height, plant parts, NDF, crude protein, starch content Maize plant arrangement is one of the most im - Çarpici et al. (2010) found the same effect at density portant management tools to improve solar radiation of 180,000 plants/ha. Regarding plant morphology, interception and can be done through changes in minimal or no effect of stand density was recorded plant density, row spacing and distribution of plants on plant height, leaf number and the number of ears in the row with the aim of optimizing its use and per plant (Turgut et al. 2005). maximizing the yield (Modolo et al. 2010). Gener- However, increasing the plant density reduced ally, plant arrangement is a function of used stand the nutritive quality of forage maize. As plant den - density per area unit and plant spacing in this area. sity increases, crude protein (CP) and dry matter di - The effect of plant density on the yield is usual - gestibility (DMD) decrease, but acid detergent fiber ly significant and generally predictable (Stone et al. (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) increase 2000). Silage or grain yield increases gradually with (Widdicombe & Thelen 2002). The reduction in increasing plant densities up to plateau, and then the forage quality with increasing plant density is at - yield decreases. Gözübenli et al. (2004) found the tributed to the decline in leaf to stalk ratio, as well highest yield at a density of 90,000 plants/ha, and as reduced ear to whole plant ratio (Baghdadi et al. Ing. Jana Jirmanová, Ing. Pavel Fuksa, PhD. ( Corresponding author), doc. Ing. Josef Hakl, PhD., prof. Ing. Jaromír Šantrůček, CSc., Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resource, Department of Forage Crops and Grassland Management, Kamýcká 129, 165 21, Prague 6-Suchdol, Czech Republic. E-mail: email@example.com doc. Ing. Václav Brant, PhD., Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resource, Department of Agroecology and Biometeorology, Kamýcká 129, 165 21, Prague 6-Suchdol, Czech Republic 62 Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), 62, 2016 (2): 62−71 2012). However, Çarpici et al. (2010) recorded no have been conducted predominantly in the USA effects of stand density on leaf percentage, CP and (Widdicombe & Thelen 2002; Balkcom et al. NDF. 2011), Argentina (Barbieri et al. 2012), Bra - The reported influence of row spacing on zil (Strieder et al. 2008; Modolo et al. 2010), maize yield and quality has been inconsistent. Turkey (Turgut et al. 2005; Çarpici et al. 2010; Alternative spatial arrangement should theoret - Gözübenli 2010), as well as in Pakistan (Maq - ically decrease plant-to-plant competition, alle - bool et al. 2006), Iran (Ramezani et al. 2011) viate crop crowding stress and improve yields and New Zealand (Stone et al. 2000). For Cen - (Robles et al. 2012). Reduction in row spacing tral Europe region, there is a lack of results for provides a more uniform distribution among alternative spatial arrangement, especially for plants, which can increase yield (Strieder et al. maize forage quality. 2008). The benefits of narrow row spacing can The aim of this study was to investigate the depend on the kind of crop management system effect of row spacing on plant morphology, pro - (Strieder et al. 2008), the hybrid used (Baron ductivity and nutritive value of silage maize et al. 2006) and the environmental conditions in the Czech Republic. In view of the parallel (Balkcom et al. 2011). effect of plant density on evaluated traits, two Regarding forage quality, the narrow row levels of stand density were used in this study. production system neither had any impact on the nutritive value of maize, such as DMD, ADF, NDF and CP (Widdicombe & Thelen MATERIAL AND METHODS 2002), nor on the concentration of starch, sim - ple sugars and digestibility of NDF (Beres et The field experiments were conducted at two lo - al. 2008). However, Baron et al. (2006) and cations of Central Bohemia, Czech Republic, in the Skonieski et al. (2014) recorded higher content growing season of the year 2013. of CP for conventional rows compared with the Experiment A: Plot experiment was established narrow rows. on the experimental field of the Faculty of Agro - The variable results of the effect of row biology, Food and Natural Resources at the Czech spacing suggested that this effect is strongly re - University of Life Sciences Prague (50°7′39″ N, lated to the environment, as well as other crop 14°22′19″ E, 286 m a.s.l.). The long-term annual air management tools including plant density. Ex - temperature at the experimental field is 9.1°C and periments with alternative spatial arrangement the total sum of precipitation is 495 mm. Daily sums T a b l e 1 Monthly sums of precipitation and mean air temperature for the period from 1.4.2013 to 30.9.2013 (Experiment A – Prague, Experiment B – Budihostice) Experiment A Experiment B Air temperature Precipitation Air temperature Precipitation [°C] [mm] [°C] [mm] April 9.6 25.3 9.3 24.3 May 12.7 106.5 12.8 104.7 June 16.8 173.4 16.6 127.6 July 20.6 54.3 20.0 44.7 August 18.5 89.5 18.4 89.7 13.1 37.5 13.3 58.5 September Vegetation period 15.3 486.5 15.1 449.5 63 Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), 62, 2016 (2): 62−71 of precipitation and mean air temperature for the to seeding at rates of 120 kg N/ha (ammonium sul - vegetation period are shown in Figure 1. Monthly phate), 45 kg P/ha (superphosphate) and 120 kg K/ha sums of precipitation and mean air temperature are (potassium chloride). Weed control was ensured us - presented in Table 1. The soil was Haplic Cherno - ing post-emergent herbicide Laudis (100 g tembotri - zem. Soil types were determined according to the one/ha and 50 g isoxadifen-ethyl/ha). Two (0.70 m World Reference Base (IUSS Working Group WRB row spacing) or four (0.35 m row spacing) rows at 2014). the centre of each plot were manually harvested at The tested stand densities of maize were 92,000 optimal silage maturity on 11 September 2013. and 110,000 plants/ha at row spacing treatments Experiment B: An additional experiment verify- 0.70 and 0.35 m, respectively. The experiment was ing the influence of row spacing in field conditions designed at Latin square with four replications of was established in the experimental area situated the main plot. Plot size was 2.8 × 5 m with four near village Budihostice (50°19′7″ N, 14°15′42″ and eight rows for conventional and narrow rows, E, 233 m a.s.l.). In this area, the long-term annu - respectively. Maize (hybrid Kuxxar, FAO 300) was al air temperature is 9.6 °C and the total sum of hand-sown to a depth of 4 cm on 29 April 2013. precipitation is 582 mm. Daily sums of precipitation At the experimental site, the silage maize had been and mean air temperature are presented in Figure continuously cultivated since 2004 under conven - 1, and monthly averages are summarized in Table tional tillage practices. Fertilisers were applied prior 1. According to the World Reference Base (IUSS Experiment A 35 80 Precipitation [mm] Air temperature [°C] 0 0 1.4.2013 1.5.2013 1.6.2013 1.7.2013 1.8.2013 1.9.2013 Experiment B 35 80 Precipitation [mm] Air temperature [°C] 0 0 1.4.2013 1.5.2013 1.6.2013 1.7.2013 1.8.2013 1.9.2013 Figure 2. Daily sums of precipitation and mean air temperature for the period from 1.4.2013 to 30.9.2013 (Experiment A – Prague, Experiment B – Budihostice) Air temperature [°C] Air temperature [°C] Precipitation [mm] Precipitation [mm] Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), 62, 2016 (2): 62−71 Working Group WRB 2014), the soil was Haplic 2013 by six-row seeder Kverneland Accord Opti - Chernozem. ma HD. Experimental plot size was 1 ha for each Row spacing treatments were 0.75 and 0.45 m, treatment and sampling was realised within each with the average number of plants per hectare being plot. The maize followed the winter wheat ( Triti- 89,000 plants/ha and 88,000 plants/ha, respectively. cum aestivum L.). Tillage practices, fertilisation and Hybrid PR38N86 (FAO 290) was sown on 19 April weed control were identical with Experiment A. The T a b l e 2 Effect of row spacing (RS) and stand density (SD) on plant height, plant weight, proportion of plant parts and dry matter yield (Experiment A – Prague, Experiment B – Budihostice) Row Stand Plant Plant Leaf Stalk Ear Yield Site spacing density height weight [t/ha] [m] [plants/ha] [m] [g] [g/kg] ab 92,000 2.37 270 124 286 590 20.0 0.35 110,000 2.37 248 133 250 616 22.7 ab 92,000 2.39 245 121 285 594 19.2 0.70 Experiment A 110,000 2.43 296 130 294 576 21.5 RS 0.709 0.526 0.633 0.090 0.089 0.281 P SD 0.817 0.446 0.236 0.270 0.660 0.013 RS × SD 0.819 0.066 0.994 0.081 0.041 0.805 0.45 88,000 3.14 289 113 287 599 24.0 Experiment B 0.75 89,000 3.11 281 117 279 603 25.3 P – 0.724 0.602 0.315 0.381 0.714 0.223 P = probability; different letters indicate statistical differences for Tukey HSD (α = 0.05) T a b l e 3 Effect of row spacing (RS) and stand density (SD) on the dry matter content of whole plant (DMC ), neutral WP detergent fiber of whole plant (NDF ), neutral detergent fiber of stover (NDF ), crude protein of stover (CP ) WP S S and starch of ear (Experiment A – Prague, Experiment B – Budihostice) Row Stand DMC NDF NDF CP Starch WP WP S S EAR Site spacing density [m] [plants/ha] [g/kg] 92,000 318 410 604 51 467 0.35 110,000 347 405 616 45 463 ab 92,000 327 416 595 45 470 0.70 ab Experiment A 110,000 333 411 571 46 472 RS 0.663 0.484 0.099 0.663 0.817 P SD 0.015 0.563 0.700 0.706 0.974 RS × SD 0.085 0.923 0.256 0.530 0.913 0.45 88,000 327 436 663 69 551 Experiment B 0.75 89,000 316 444 687 63 552 P – 0.264 0.375 0.136 0.406 0.947 P = probability; different letters indicate statistical differences for Tukey HSD (α = 0.05) 65 Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), 62, 2016 (2): 62−71 maize was harvested at optimal silage maturity on the stover) were analysed for crude protein (CP, N 10 September 2013. The yield was assessed using x 6.25) by Dumas combustion method (Dumatherm the average plant weight (evaluated twenty plants N analyser). Amylase-treated neutral detergent fibre per treatment) and the number of plants per hectare. (2002.04) in stover and starch in ear by the amylase Harvest measurements and plant morpholo- method (920.40) were assessed according to Associ - gy: The measurement of plant height and sampling ation of Official Analytical Chemists (2005). In the of above-ground biomass were realized during har - ear, the NDF content 283 g/kg was considered to be vest time. In Experiment A, plant height was mea - constant value. The NDF of whole plant was calcu - sured at 20 plants in the centre of two rows of each lated from ear ratio and NDF content in the stover. plot from the soil surface to the tip of tassel (m), and Statistical analysis: The data of maize yield, four plants were randomly selected (from each plot) plant morphology and forage quality were statisti - to determine dry matter content (DMC) and forage cally evaluated by using two- and one-way analysis quality characteristics. In Experiment B, 4 × 10 of variance in Experiments A and B, respectively. plants were measured for height and 4 × 4 plants All analyses were performed using Statistica 12 from each tested spatial arrangements were selected (2013) followed by Tukey post-hoc test (α = 0.05). for the following analyses. The sampled fresh plants Ordination biplot of principal component analysis were divided into ear, leaf and stalk, and dried at (PCA) was created in CanoDraw (Microcomputer 60°C in a forced-air dryer for calculation of their Power, Ithaca, NY) for graphical visualization of weight percentage ratio. the relationship between maize morphology and Forage quality: Dried samples of plant parts from quality (dependent variables), and row spacing and each plot were ground in a mill on sieve with 1 mm stand density (combination of groups used as sup - mesh size. Mixed samples of leaves and stalks (i.e. plementary variables). All ordination analyses were -1.8 0.8 DMC – dry matter content of whole plant; NDF – neutral detergent fiber of whole plant; NDF – neutral WP WP S detergent fiber of stover; CP – crude protein of stover; treatments are described as row spacing (70 and 35 cm)/ stand density ( 92,000 and 110,000 plants/ha) Figure 2. Ordination biplot of PCA shows the relationship between maize plant morphology and forage quality (dependent variables) regarding different row spacing and stand density (supplementary variables), Experiment A – Prague -0.8 0.8 Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), 62, 2016 (2): 62−70 performed in CANOCO for Windows 4.5 program stand density separated treatments according to row (ter Braak & Šmilauer 2002). spacing: 0.35 m to right and 0.70 m to left side (see Figure 2). Narrow rows under higher density were associated with higher ear and leave ratio, as well as RESULTS DM content and stover NDF. Plant weight and stalk proportion were related to 0.70 m row spacing. Maize plant morphology and dry matter yield in relation to row spacing and stand density are sum - marized in Table 2. In the field Experiment A, the DISCUSSION impact of row spacing was almost significant for ear and stalk proportion. Stand density showed signif - The presented values of plant morphology and icant effect only on the yield. However, the inter - forage quality traits were within the usual ranges action row spacing × stand density was significant published about maize plot experiments (Cox & or almost significant for plant weight, stalk and Cherney 2001; Millner & Villaver 2005). Our re - ear proportion. Within 0.35 m rows, increasing the sults showed that the impact of different row maize stand density reduced plant weight and stalk pro - spacing on morphology and forage quality was not portion, whereas ear proportion was significantly meaningful, similar to the results presented by Wid- higher than those in 0.70 m rows under higher stand dicombe and Thelen (2002) or Stone et al. (2000). density. In the field Experiment B with one level of Also, the differences in stand density did not show stand density, any significant difference was found any significant changes within the given ranges, for all evaluated traits in line with lower density in except for DM content. It must be taken into ac - Experiment A. count that evaluated year 2013 was humid; 98% and Differences in DM content and forage quality 77% of long-term annual sum of precipitation was over different row spacing and stand density are achieved over vegetation period in localities of Ex - shown in Table 3. In Experiment A, the effect of row periment A and B, respectively. In 2013, the yield spacing was almost significant just for stover NDF was considerably influenced by the climatic condi - content, where higher values were observed within tion of the growing season. In this year, in the Czech 0.35 m rows regardless of stand density. Higher Republic, the average yields of silage maize were stand density tends to increase of DM content but lower by 19.6% and 19.1% in comparison to years this effect was visible only within 0.35 m rows 2012 and 2014 according to Czech Statistical Office where the highest value was observed. In Experi - (2015), respectively. Significant single effect of the ment B, any differences between row widths were year on the yield of grain and silage maize was de - not visible at all evaluated traits. scribed by many authors (Çarpici et al. 2010; Nova- The effect of row spacing and stand density on cek et al. 2013), but significant year × row spacing relationship among maize plant morphology and or year × stand density interactions were not deter - forage quality in Experiment A is illustrated in the mined (Barbieri et al. 2012; Novacek et al. 2013). ordination biplot of PCA (Figure 2). The most im - In spite of a humid experimental year, almost sig - portant first (horizontal) canonical axis represents nificant interactions between row spacing and stand the positive correlation between the stalk opposite density were observed. It appeared that the effect of to ear and leaves proportion; the second (vertical) plant spacing on evaluated traits was enhanced due axis represents the negative relation between DM to an increase in the plant population density in the content and plant NDF. Both axes were strongly af - present experiment. fected by the negative relationships between plant Plant morphology and dry matter yield weight and stover NDF, and between ear ratio and Regarding the plant morphology under higher ear starch concentration. Regarding the external population density in our experiment, wide rows in - supplementary factors, both treatments with lower creased the plant weight and stalk proportion, while stand density were located in the centre of the figure the ear ratio was significantly reduced. In spite of regardless of row spacing. In contrast to this, higher 67 Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), 62, 2016 (2): 62−70 these changes in proportion, the plant height as during two-year experiments. In Experiment A, the well as leaves ratio were relatively stable across all yield (4.2% at 92,000 plant/ha and 5.6% at 110,000 treatments. Reduced ear ratio under increased plant plant/ha) increased when the row spacing was nar - yield was in accordance with the results reported by rowed from 0.70 to 0.35 m. Comparable increase of Çarpici et al. (2010). According to Baghdadi et al. yield (5.4%) for narrow rows was presented by Wid - (2012), the reduction in forage quality with an in - dicombe and Thelen (2002). Similar to Baron et al. creasing stand density (from 90,000 to 130,000 (2006), no row spacing × stand density interaction plants/ha) was attributed to the decline in leaf to was found in our experiment as well. In Experiment stalk ratio, as well as reduced ear to whole plant ra - B, higher yield in narrow rows was not observed, tio. On the contrary, Iptas and Acar (2006) did not which corresponded with Skoniesky et al. (2014). observe any significant changes in ear proportion These results highlighted that hybrids evaluated in between different row spaces; however, changes in two experimental localities did not show the same stand density was not independent of row spacing effect in similar row spacing, as was published by in their experiment. Millner and Villaver (2005) or Turgut et al. (2005). Ramezani et al. (2011) did not find any significant Forage quality effect of stand density on plant part proportion and Maize DM content parameter is closely connect - plant weight. ed with harvest timing (Lynch et al. 2012). Non-sig- Plant height is an important component that nificant differences in maize DM content were found helps in the determination of growth attained during under various row spacings (Iptas & Acar 2006) or the growing period (Zamir et al. 2011). In our ex - stand densities (Millner & Villaver 2005). Similar - periment, this trait was not affected by stand density ly, Beres et al. (2008) did not observe any effect or row spacing arrangement. This is in agreement of stand density, row spacing or their interaction on with Çarpici et al. (2010) or Ramezani et al. (2011) maize DM content under applied irrigation. In the for different stand densities and with Turgut et al. present experiment, lower stand density significant - (2005) for various row spacings. However, some ef - ly reduced DM content but this effect was visible fects on plant height were previously described by only for narrow rows. Within the same density, row Gözübenli (2010) who reported significantly high - effect was not significant. It appeared that simple er plant height in narrow rows compared with con - row spacing effect on DM content was small but ventional rows (2.07 vs. 2.00 m) on average of two could be enhanced by interaction with plant popula - years, while Ramezani et al. (2011) observed the tion density. However, this is also modified by envi - opposite effect (2.10 vs. 2.23 m). ronmental conditions where these changes seem to Our result suggests an increase in ear ratio un- be eliminated under irrigation (Beres et al. 2008). In der higher density level in narrow rows, which cor - present experiment, significantly reduced DM con - responds with Modolo et al. (2010), who reported tent was observed at narrow rows treatment under some tendency of narrow rows to produce higher drier end of vegetation period. grain yield. It is possible to assume that ear ratio Regarding plant NDF concentration, the differ - reduction together with increase in the stalk propor - ences between row spacing were not significant at tion could be observed, where row spacing, stand both sites. It is in line with Widdicombe and Thel - density or their interaction increase the plant weight. en (2002) that the narrow row production system Significantly higher dry matter yield at higher did not impact maize NDF content. However, some plant stand density corresponded with the results impact of row spacing in Experiment A was visi - of many authors. Across two years, Çarpici et al. ble in stover NDF content, where narrow rows re - (2010) published a significantly higher dry matter sulted in almost significantly higher stover NDF yield (21.26 t/ha) at 180,000 plants/ha in compar - content. Higher difference was found at 110,000 ison to 60,000 and 100,000 plants/ha (18.72 and plants/ha than at 92,000 plants/ha. Similarly, at 19.45 t/ha, respectively). Baron et al. (2006) found lower stand density in Experiment B, minimal dif - greater impact of population density on yield in - ference in stover NDF content was observed. Our crease (+6.4%) than row spacing and hybrid choice 68 Agriculture (Poľnohospodárstvo), 62, 2016 (2): 62−71 result suggests that the effect of row spacing on for absolute values. The expression of these ef - NDF was higher in stover than in the whole plant. fects in CP content has also been related to site Similar tendency for whole plant NDF content conditions (Cusicanqui & Lauer 1999), intensity was reported by Beres et al. (2008). Under various of nitrogen fertilisation (Cox & Cherney 2001) stand densities, Çarpici et al. (2010) and Marsalis and applied levels of stand density (Çarpici et al. et al. (2010) had not found any significant effect 2010). on plant NDF, which is in accordance with our re - sults. However, Widdicombe and Thelen (2002) re - corded an increase in NDF (from 441 to 456 g/kg) CONCLUSIONS as the stand density increased from 64,200 to 88,900 plants/ha. Cox and Cherney (2001) found In the humid year 2013, a significant increase significantly higher NDF concentrations (473 g/kg) in maize yield was observed under higher stand at 116,000 plants/ha compared with 80,000 plants/ha density. The influence of row spacing effect on (460 g/kg). maize yield, morphology and quality was not Starch content in the ear was not affected by meaningful at both the sites. In experiment A, plant spacing arrangement in both the experiment plant morphology (ear ratio) and quality (stover sites. Contrary to this, Beres et al. (2008) reported NDF) were more affected by the interaction be - an almost significant reduction in starch content tween row spacing and stand density than by a in whole plant maize biomass under narrow rows row spacing effect. In line with Experiment B, treatment. This discrepancy could probably be ex - it seems that observed differences in these traits plained by the changes in plant part proportions. were smaller under low stand density. Using of It seems that starch content in maize biomass can narrow rows showed benefit in higher yield; how - be influenced by row spacing but our result shows ever, achieved results reveal that forage quality that it is more closely connected with ear propor - should be also considered. It appeared that narrow tion than starch content in the ear. rows could increase ear ratio under higher stand Similar to starch, CP content in the stover was density but tendency for higher stover NDF con - also not affected by either row spacing or stand tent was also observed. density. It is in line with the research by Çarpici et al. (2010) and Marsalis et al. (2010) in which they Acknowledgements. Supported by the Ministry of reported no significant effect of stand density on Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic CP content. Conversely, Widdicombe & Thelen (S grant) and by the Grant Agency of the Faculty (2002) recorded a decrease in CP (from 76 g/kg of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech to 72 g/kg) as the stand density increased from University of Life Sciences Prague (Project No. 64,200 plants/ha to 88,900 plants/ha. Also Cox SV13-46-21240). and Cherney (2001) found significantly lower CP concentrations at 116,000 plants/ha (52 g/kg) compared with 80,000 plants/ha (55 g/kg). Re - REFERENCES garding row spacing, Skonieski et al. (2014) re - ASSOCIATION OF OFFICIAL ANALYTICAL CHEM - corded a significantly higher content of CP (70 and th ISTS. 2005. Official methods of analysis, 18 Ed. 68 g/kg) for conventional rows (0.60 and 0.80 m) Gaithersburg, USA: Association of Official Analyti - compared with narrow rows (54 g/kg at 0.40 m). cal Chemists. AOAC International. BAGHDADI, A. – HALIM, R.A. – MAJIDIAN, M. – Also, Baron et al. (2006) found marginally high - DAUD, W.N.W. – AHMAD, I. 2012. 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