The Central Valley of California is vulnerable to water supply fluctuations and is in need of rotational crops such as sorghum, that are adapted to its unique conditions. Sorghum is a crop that is well known for its ability to adapt to poor quality soils and water in hot, arid environments with limited or irregular rainfall. Variables that growers battle with, aside from water shortage, include limitations on fertilizer applications, eventual limitations on applied water, and the need for rotational crops for pest control and soil enhancement.
This study is vital to California agriculture because it establishes an economical alternative and important rotational crop for growers, making it a major economic base for the region. The project’s benefits are four-fold:
- It will determine the best irrigation and nitrogen fertilizer management practice to increase sorghum production in the Central Valley
- Improve water and nitrogen use efficiency by optimizing water and nitrogen fertilizer applications
- Quantify the best management practice to sustain sorghum yields for profitability
- Re-establish the cultivation of sorghum in California which reaps benefits for the California dairy industry, growers, and the general community given the crop’s low input requirements and its high nutritional value.
Phases of this project include:
- Ground preparation
- Installation of the irrigation system
- Pest control
- Irrigation and fertigation
- Data collection
Drip irrigation is being used alongside furrow irrigation to compare a commonly used sorghum-corn irrigation practice with one of the precision irrigation practices now being implemented in row crop agriculture.
This project is taking place on six acres east of the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State, and is funded by the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI). Students who are taking part in the project assist in planting, installing the irrigation system, fertigating, irrigation scheduling, weed control, data collection, harvesting, sample preparation, sample processing, and data processing.
Principal Investigator: Florence Cassel
Co-Principal Investigator: Tim Jacobsen
Written by: Hanna Hornyak