Energy Sorghum Production under Arid and Semi-Arid Environments of Texas
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© 2019 by the authors. Water availability and supply are critical factors in the production of bioenergy. Dry biomass productivity and water use efficiency (WUE) of two biomass sorghum cultivars (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) were studied in two different climatic locations during 2014 and 2015. The objective of this field study was to evaluate the dry biomass productivity and water use efficiency of two energy sorghum cultivars grown in two different climatic environments: one at Pecos located in the Chihuahuan Desert and a second one located at Weslaco in the Lower Rio Grande bordering Mexico and with a semiarid environment. There were significant differences between locations in dry biomass and WUE. Dry biomass productivity ranged from 22.4 to 31.9 Mg ha-1 in Weslaco, while in Pecos it ranged from 7.4 to 17.6 Mg ha-1. Even though it was possible to produce energy sorghum biomass in an arid environment with saline-sodic soils and saline irrigation, the energy sorghum dry biomass yield was reduced more than 50% in the arid environment compared to production in a semiarid environment with good soil and water quality, and it required approximately twice as much water. Harsh production conditions combined with low energy prices resulted in negative net returns for all treatments. However, a moderate increase in ethanol price could make the semiarid cropland of Texas an economically feasible feedstock production location.
author list (cited authors)
Enciso, J., Chavez, J. C., Ganjegunte, G., & Zapata, S. D.