Texas Tech University

$1.1M study examines sorghum as a climate smart commodity for West Texas

Norman Martin

July 28, 2023

Krishna Jagadish, the Thornton Distinguished Chair and Professor of Forage & Crop Science in Texas Tech University's Department of Plant & Soil Science, is leading a $1.1 million grant provided through the USDA's new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, centered on obtaining information on production, energy and water use on diverse producer plots to quantify sorghum as a sustainable climate smart crop for the region.

“Dr. Jagadish and his team are particularly cognizant of both the needs of agricultural producers and our desire to identify and produce healthy and climate-friendly crops,” said Glen Ritchie, a professor of crop physiology and chair of Texas Tech's Department of Plant & Soil Science. “This work will fundamentally benefit Texas, the United States, and the world, and we are excited about this work.”

The effort towards establishing grain sorghum as a ‘climate smart' commodity for west Texas, builds on the work done by Texas Alliance for Water Conservation program. Based at Texas Tech and with long-term support from the Texas Water Development Board, TAWC is a partnership of producers, technology firms, universities and government agencies working to extend the life of the largest subterranean aquifer in the United States.

“As a part of the proposed project, TAWC will aim to expand the network of the grain sorghum producers to at least 15 in each of the study's five-year timeline in approximately 10 counties,” Jagadish said. “All the farm level data will be recorded from each farm, including geo-referencing of individual farms for specific area-based determination of benefits from reduced green-house gas emissions.”

In addition, Jagadish said, participating producer records will be revised to include information on energy use for tillage, pumping and harvesting to be better positioned to determine the overall energy use and farm-level greenhouse gas emissions, particularly nitrous oxide (N2O). Systematic data collected on management practices and energy use will facilitate effective utilization of data in COMET- Farm, a USDA greenhouse gas accounting system, and GREET, a greenhouse gases analysis tool for demonstrating climate smart nature of sorghum, under water-deficit regions of the Southern High Plains.

Other members of the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources research team include:

  • Rick Kellison, Director, Texas Alliance for Water Conservation
  • Samantha Borgstedt, Communications Director, Texas Alliance for Water Conservation
  • Jeff Pate, Producer Relations & Records, Texas Alliance for Water Conservation

All collected data during the timeframe of the project, will be made available to Sustainable Environmental Consultants, as a part of the overall program for determining the GHG benefits, and the corresponding carbon benefits relayed back to the producer, by following an established and currently operational pipeline.

Jagadish said the grant is funded by the USDA through its new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. In addition to Texas Tech and the National Sorghum Producers, he said the  national project partners and supporters include more than 40 sorghum-centric organizations and five regional universities, including Colorado State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Prairie View A&M, and Texas A&M.


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