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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #326350

Research Project: Development and Application of Mechanistic Process-Driven Crop Models for Assessing Effects and Adapting Agriculture to Climate Changes

Location: Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory

Title: Impact of NPK treatments on sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L)) yields for biofuel feedstock in Piedmont Region of North Carolina

Author
item RAVELLA, RAMESH - North Carolina State University
item DEVUDIGARI, ASHWIN - North Carolina State University
item REDDY, MUCHHA - North Carolina State University
item GEHL, ROHN - North Carolina State University
item Reddy, Vangimalla
item GAYLE, GODFREY - North Carolina State University
item WANG, LIZUN - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: American Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/8/2016
Publication Date: 2/8/2016
Citation: Ravella, R., Devudigari, A., Reddy, M., Gehl, R., Reddy, V., Gayle, G., Wang, L. 2016. Impact of NPK treatments on sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L)) yields for biofuel feedstock in Piedmont Region of North Carolina. American Journal of Experimental Agriculture. 13(1):1-8. doi: 10.9734/AJEA/2016/23608.

Interpretive Summary: Increasing demand for alternative source of fuels to supplement traditional fossil fuel has encouraged the cultivation of biofuel crops in the United States. Alternative sources for biofuel production such as juice extracted from sweet sorghum are in high demand and proper nutrient management practices need to be established for growing sweet sorghum in order to maximize profits. A field experiment was conducted on a North Carolina Piedmont soil to evaluate the effect of fertilizer management on the production of two sweet sorghum cultivars as a feedstock for bio-ethanol. Results showed that 80 lb/acre of nitrogen and potassium and 21.4 lb/acre of phosphorus fertilizers in combination with the foliar application of surfactant Soysoap reduced the fertilizer input expenses by 50%. This fertilizer application rate produced the greatest amount of biomass and juice without significantly affecting the total sugar level. Results of this study are useful for sweet sorghum growers and researchers to improve fertilizer management to optimize sweet sorghum production.

Technical Abstract: Alternative sources for biofuel production such as juice extracted from sweet sorghum are in high demand and proper nutrient management practices need to be established for growing sweet sorghum in order to maximize profits. Sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) is a promising alternative energy crop. A field experiment was conducted on a North Carolina Piedmont soil to evaluate the production of sweet sorghum as a feedstock for bio-ethanol. Two varieties of sweet sorghum (Dale and M81-E) and four fertilizer treatments (T1: 0, T2: 168-56-168, T3: 84-28-84-soysoap, T4: 168-56-168-Soysoap, of N-P2O5-K2O kg ha-1). The experiment was conducted at the North Carolina A&T research farm in 2011. Dale and M-81-E varieties of sweet sorghum produced significantly higher yields of tops fresh weight and stalk fresh weight from all fertilizer treatments (T2, T3 & T4) than the control (T1). Quantity of juice extracted from stalks was significantly higher for all fertilized treatments compared with the control, but was not affected by variety. No significant difference was observed in total sugar levels in all fertilized treatments. Across all measured variables, T3 gave significantly higher yields than the control but not from T2 or T4. T3 treatment involves half the amount of fertilizer than T2 & T4 and a surfactant effectively cutting fertilizer input expenses by 50%.