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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Plant Stress and Germplasm Development Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #304463

Title: Sustainable sorghum cropping systems for flexible forage/bio-energy use under limited irrigation

item Burow, Gloria
item Acosta-Martinez, Veronica
item Cotton, Jon
item Sattler, Scott
item MOORE-KUCERA, JENNIFER - Texas Tech University

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Ogallala Aquifer - Steps to Sustainability
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/27/2014
Publication Date: 3/25/2014
Citation: Burow, G.B., Acosta Martinez, V., Cotton, J.E., Sattler, S.E., Moore-Kucera, J. 2014. Sustainable sorghum cropping systems for flexible forage/bio-energy use under limited irrigation. Proceedings of the Ogallala Aquifer - Steps to Sustainability. p. 8.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Sorghum, (Sorghum bicolor L.), a versatile and nutritious cereal grain crop is equally useful as forage and feedstock for livestock and bioenergy applications, respectively. Further, sorghum is highly suitable for the Ogallala Aquifer (OA) region because of its inherent water saving properties and drought tolerance. However, little information is known on the characteristics and agronomics of emerging cultivars of sorghum collectively referred to as “flexible forage/biomass sorghums”, specifically, the brown midrib (bmr) varieties and the effects of these emerging sorghums on soil physical and biochemical properties under limited irrigation. Brown midrib sorghums have lower lignin content and better digestibility than conventional cultivars. In this project, the analysis of biomass and ethanol production of bmr sorghums in dryland and limited irrigation was combined with soil biochemistry studies to obtain information towards sustainable bioenergy cropping systems for the southern sections of the Ogallala Aquifer region. A two year field study under dryland and limited irrigation showed that Pacesetter bmr lag in biomass yield compared to conventional SP1990. However, percent theoretical maximum EtOH Yield (%TEY) for PaceSetter bmr was higher than SP1990. Limited irrigation resulted in increased biomass production for both cultivars during both growing seasons. Soil enzyme activities showed increases from baseline samples after 2 growing seasons of sorghum cultivation. Potential positive changes in soil quality, coupled with the economic and environmental gains from biofuel production, indicate that emerging flexible forage/biomass sorghums could be an essential component of cropping systems for the southern (dryland) sections of the OA region. Additional cultivars of flex forage/biomass sorghums with different genes for bmr could provide options for sustainable cropping systems.