Texas Tech University

PSS-led research team set to examine sorghum, cotton rotation

Norman Martin

June 27, 2023

Krishna Jagadish, an internationally recognized crop physiologist within Texas Tech University's Department of Plant & Soil Science, is set to lead a $294,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant aimed at sustaining crop production in regions limited by water on the southwest High Plains by adopting a grain sorghum and cotton rotation as a pragmatic option compared to continuous cotton.

“Rapid and uncontrolled extraction of groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer and poor water-conserving agricultural practices are causing significant challenges to sustain the region's agricultural industry,” said Jagadish, who serves as the Department of Plant & Soil Science's Thornton Distinguished Chair & Professor of Crop-Forage-Livestock Systems.

The study is titled, “Sorghum cotton rotation - A pragmatic route to improve farm productivity in water limited environments of the Southwest High Plains.” The research team includes Glen Ritchie, department chair and professor of crop physiology; Lindsey Slaughter, associate professor soil microbial ecology/biochemistry; Impa Somayanda, a research assistant professor of crop and forage physiology; along with Donna Mitchell McCallister, an assistant professor with the Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics.

A top objective of the project is quantifying changes in crop yield and quality with a sorghum-cotton rotation under different irrigation levels, management practices and soil types. Other goals include exploring soil microbial changes and associated impact on soil health and crop productivity in a sorghum-cotton rotation compared to continuous cotton, in addition to determining the economic outcomes and environmental sustainability of a sorghum-cotton rotation in the target region. 

Jagadish noted that the project will leverage the Texas Tech-based Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC) - a long-term, producer-teaching-producer demonstration program in operation for 17 years - to disseminate project findings to a wider group of High Plains stakeholders.

“The comparative assessment of findings from the research farm and producer fields will facilitate developing an economically feasible pathway for incorporating sorghum-cotton rotation in water-limited environments of the southwest High Plains,” said Jagadish who serves as TAWC Coordinator.

Prior to joining the Texas Tech faculty in 2022, Jagadish served as professor in Kansas State's Department of Agronomy. At Texas Tech, Jagadish also serves as Director of the Texas Coalition for Sustainable Integrated Systems Research Program.

His doctorate in molecular and physiological dissection of heat tolerance during anthesis in rice is from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. Recent honors include the Kansas State Gamma Sigma Delta Outstanding Research Award (2021) and being named an International Fellow of the Indian Society of Plant Physiology (2021).


This story was first published in the Davis College NewsCenter. See the original article here.