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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #321789

Title: Future for sorghum regarding its water use

item Brauer, David
item Baumhardt, Roland - Louis

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/12/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Fresh water is a minor component of world's mass and has multiple uses. In order to feed a world population of 9 billion people in 2050, agriculture will need to be more water efficient. Although sorghum production in the U.S. has experienced steady declines in acreage since the 1960, sorghum's ability to use water efficiently makes it ideal suited for future grain production in several regions within the U.S. This book chapter explores water policies in 4 sub-regions within the U.S. in which sorghum is already a significant crop and the potential impacts of changing water policy sorghum production and acreage. In two regions (western Kansas and Texas High Plains) declining water availability from the Ogallala Aquifer and water policies to prolong its depletion, should lead to increases in both dryland and irrigated sorghum production. Evidence of a trend of increasing sorghum production in these two regions was provided. A third region, the Rolling Plains, will see continued sorghum production because annual and growing season rainfall is sufficient. A fourth region, the Lower Rio Grande and Coastal Bend regions of Texas are likely to see declining sorghum production because of the increased demand for water by a growing population. The information in this report is of interest to water planners and policy makers, and people who promote as a sorghum commodity.

Technical Abstract: Despite the planet's Earth appearance from space, water is a minor component of the plant's mass and the considerably less is present as fresh water available for crop production. Sorghum is ideally suited for grain and silage production in water limited areas because of its ability to yield higher at lower levels of available water than other crops including corn. In the United States, there are four areas in which sorghum is planted preferentially over other crops. Development of water policies in the 20th and 21st centuries and hydrology were examined in each of these four areas to provide insights into the possible future production trends for sorghum. In general in areas over the Ogallala Aquifer on the Southern High Plains are likely to see increases in sorghum production in the remainder of the 21st century as water policies and hydrology will encourage the use of crops that produce more at lower levels of available water.