|Prasad, Vara P.v. - Kansas State University|
|Angadi, Sangamesh - New Mexico State University|
|Rangappa, Umesh - New Mexico State University|
|Wagle, Pradeep - University Of Oklahoma|
Submitted to: American Journal of Plant Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/26/2015
Publication Date: 10/29/2015
Citation: Gowda, P., Prasad, V., Angadi, S.V., Rangappa, U., Wagle, P. 2015. Finger millet: An alternative crop for the Southern High Plains. American Journal of Plant Sciences. Available: http://www.scirp.org/journal/ajps, http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ajps.2015.616270.
Interpretive Summary: Dairies are expanding at a rapid rate in the Southern High Plains. Corn and forage sorghum are the two major crops grown in the region to meet the forage demand by dairies. However, corn and sorghum require more water and demand irrigation in most years. In this study, we evaluated finger millet, a draught resistance forage crop commonly grown in Asia and Africa. Results indicated that finger millet forage improves the quality of the forage-based dairy feeds it is mixed with corn or sorghum.
Technical Abstract: In the Southern High Plains, dairies are expanding to take advantage of favorable climatic conditions. Currently, corn (Zea mays L.) and forage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] are the two major crops grown in the region to meet silage demands for the expanding dairy industry, but they have relatively large water requirements of about 840 and 690 mm, respectively, for silage crops to achieve desirable results. With rising energy costs and declining water levels in the underlying Ogallala Aquifer, crops that use less water, like finger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn) could become alternate forage crops for dairies to corn or forage silage. In this study, we evaluated the adaptability of five finger millet accessions to the Southern High Plains and compared nutritional quality of their forage to that of corn and sorghum. Results indicated that finger millet can be grown in the Southern High Plains. Comparison of nutrient composition has shown that the quality of finger millet is relatively higher than that of corn and sorghum in terms of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus levels in their forage. However, potential forage yield of most commonly grown corn and sorghum in the region is higher than that of finger millet. Therefore, finger millet may provide a unique opportunity to improve the dairy-fed silage quality by mixing it with corn or sorghum silage while meeting the growing regional forage demand. Further field research is needed to measure its water requirements in the Southern High Plains.