PSS In Press: Water-saving alternative forage crops for Texas livestock
By: Norman Martin
A new agricultural scientific study that included team members from Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science was spotlighted in the SCIENMAG (Science Magazine) this week. The title of the study, published in the national research journal Crop Science, is "Effect of deficit irrigation on physiology and forage yield of forage sorghum, pearl millet, and corn."
In the semi-arid Texas High Plains, growers and producers are concerned about the sustainability of beef and dairy industries, which rely heavily on irrigated corn for feed-grain and silage. A main source of irrigation–the Ogallala Aquifer–is declining rapidly. The aquifer's decline emphasizes the need for producers and growers to find alternative, water-efficient forage crops for sustainable beef and dairy production in the region.
In a new study published in Crop Science, researchers from Texas Tech University investigated the potential of forage sorghum and pearl millet as alternatives to corn for forage production. The 2-year study evaluated the physiological responses of multiple varieties of all three crops under various irrigation regimes, including dryland. The team collected data on leaf water potential, stomatal conductance, and canopy temperature. They also studied the influence of these responses on biomass production and nutritive values.
The study reported that sorghum showed better physiological responses and produced greater biomass under water-stress conditions compared to pearl millet and corn. Though the nutritive value of sorghum was lower than corn, sorghum could provide growers with an alternative to produce higher biomass with less water. As a management option, forage sorghum could be mixed with high nutrition supplements to achieve desirable feed quality and increase profitability.
The research team included members from Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science. They were graduate student Bishwoyog Bhattarai, Sukhbir Singh, Assistant Professor of Vegetable Production Systems; Charles West, Tech's Thornton Distinguished Chair; Glen Ritchie, Associate Professor of Crop Physiology and Chair, along with Calvin Trostle, Professor and Extension Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife – Lubbock. The research project was funded by High Plains Underground Water Conservation District, which was awarded to Singh and the research team.
CONTACT: Glen Ritchie, Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-4325 or email@example.com
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Editor: Norman Martin
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