Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014OK310B

Comparison of Grain Sorghum and Corn Productivity under Limited Irrigation with Subsurface Drip

Institute: Oklahoma
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $50,000

Principal Investigators: Jason Warren, Jody Campiche, Rodney Jones, Rick Kochenower, Arthur Stoecker

Abstract: Irrigation is the primary use of water from the Ogallala aquifer in the Panhandle Region of Oklahoma, accounting for approximately 68% of withdrawal. This water and the crops it produces serve as the economic backbone of the region. However, the longevity of this agricultural system is uncertain. Withdrawal from the Ogallala Aquifer is in excess of recharge, causing a decline in water levels and pumping capacities. This proposal seeks to evaluate viable alternatives to the traditional production of irrigated corn. Specifically, the project will compare the water use, productivity and economic viability of grain sorghum and corn. The data will provide a yield response curve to a range of irrigation application rates. This information will be used to determine an irrigation rate below which the production of grain sorghum may become more profitable than corn. The project will utilize a highly efficient and automated drip irrigation system at the Oklahoma Panhandle Research and Extension Center located near Goodwell. Utilization of commercially available irrigation scheduling technologies will also be demonstrated. The production and water use data will be used to calibrate the EPIC crop model which will then be used along with historic weather data to simulate various production scenarios including declining water availability. This will in turn be used to evaluate profitability as well as risk associated with sorghum and corn production. The economic analysis is needed by producers as well as policymakers to properly understand the impacts of declining water supply or efforts to decrease water use on the economic viability of the region. It will also allow an assessment of how current farm policies may impact the adoption of sorghum as an alternative to corn in the region.