Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station
Active Projects 2016

Note: A NEW project—initiated within last year—might not have an annual report, publications, or outcomes/impact.
Project: COL00654A Department: Plainsman Research Center  
PIs: Larson, KJ ; Pettinger, B ; Johnson, JJ
Title: Sustainable Farming Practices, Crop Management and Sorghum Improvement
Begin Date: 07/01/2015 Term Date: 06/30/2020 Most recent project status: New
Objectives: Evaluate sustainable production practices for Southeastern Colorado to counteract soil erosion and scarce and more costly inputs. 1) Address the declining aquifers in our area by evaluating the water efficiency and yield response of drag driplines compared to conventional long drop spray nozzles for center pivot irrigation. 2) Provide grain and forage sorghum hybrid selection tables based on maturation and adaptation to our local environments to aid sorghum growers in their planting decisions. 3) Determine the income from strip-till compared to no-till for dryland grain sorghum production. 4) Evaluate twin row planting compared to conventional single row planting for earlier canopy cover, post harvest ground cover and grain yield of sorghum. 5) Ascertain the economics of cover crops planted in fallow compared to conventional fallow on the subsequent cash crops of wheat and grain sorghum in Wheat-Fallow and Wheat-Sorghum-Fallow rotations.
Approach: All studies will be either in a pair-wise or randomized complete block designs with a minimum of three replications. 1) The drag driplines will be compared to conventional long drop spray nozzles in a limited sprinkler irrigated grain sorghum study with half of each sprinkler span equipped with the appropriate length drag driplines or the appropriate sized long drop spray nozzles. We will record: applied irrigation, soil moisture, grain yield and calculate water efficiency. 2) Grain and forage sorghum hybrids will be tested in dryland performance trials for adaptation to our local environments. We will record: plant density, mid-flowering date, plant height, lodging, maturity, yield, test weight (for grain sorghum), stalk sugar (for forage sorghum) and other pertinent information. 3) Strip-till will be compared to no-till in a dryland grain sorghum study of paired treatments for variable net income. We will record: variable costs and yields to determine production incomes. 4) Twin row planting and conventional single row planting will be compared in a dryland grain study at a standard dryland seeding rate and at a 35% higher seeding rate for canopy, stubble cover and yield. We will record: plant density, canopy cover, mid-flowering date, plant height, maturity, grain yield, test weight, harvest tiller count and residue cover. 5) Cover crops planted in fallow will be compared to conventional fallow in dryland Wheat-Fallow and Wheat-Sorghum-Fallow rotations. Winter cover crops will be planted after wheat harvest in August and terminated in April. Spring cover crops will be planted in sorghum stubble in March and terminated in June. Cover crops for both winter and spring planting treatments will include: grass alone, broadleaf alone, legume alone, and mixes (grasses, broadleaves and legumes) in a block with conventional fallow. We will record: cost of cover crop seed and planting, cover crop forage yields, cover crop water use, N analyses of cover crop forage, wheat and sorghum stands, wheat and sorghum tiller counts, test weights, grain yields and variable net incomes of wheat and sorghum following conventional fallow and cover crops.
Keywords: Hybrid Performance, Sorghum, Drag Driplines, Twin Row Planting, Crop Rotation, Cover Crops, Sustainable Practices, Soil Conservation, Strip-Till, Water Efficiency