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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 #378969

Research Project: Precipitation and Irrigation Management to Optimize Profits from Crop Production

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Water conservation and yield of dryland forage and grain for a wheat-sorghum-fallow cropping system

item Baumhardt, Roland - Louis
item Johnson, Grant
item Schwartz, Robert

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2021
Publication Date: 11/9/2020
Citation: Baumhardt, R.L., Johnson, G.L., Schwartz, R.C. 2020. Water conservation and yield of dryland forage and grain for a wheat-sorghum-fallow cropping system [abstract]. 2020 ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting, November 9-13, 2020, Virtual. Paper No. 127637.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Where demand for forage by beef and/or dairy cattle is sustained, inherently risky semiarid dryland production of grain may be controlled by growing forage during a comparably shorter crop growing season than for grain and, consequently, limiting crop water demand. Control of potential yield losses to hail or freeze injury of late planted grain crops as necessitated by drought conditions may appeal to risk averse producers; however, removal of crop biomass for forage or hay will reduce evaporation controlling residue cover. We investigated dryland forage and grain cropping systems with the objective of comparing water conservation and subsequent dryland forage or grain yields. Forage or grain production of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] grown in the three-year wheat-sorghum-fallow (WSF) rotation under stubble mulch (SM) or no tillage (NT) management were compared between 2012 and 2016 in Bushland, Texas. We measured precipitation, soil water at planting and harvest, grain and biomass yield, and the forage nutrient value. Our data show that less precipitation was stored as soil water with NT than SM when producing forage because of the absence of residue or the opposite result for grain crops with residue. The hay and biomass yields were about half of the grain plus residue yields but freeze injury and hail damage destroyed two grain crops. We conclude that there was no clear advantage in water conservation or crop yields when producing forage instead of grain.