Progress 10/01/12 to 09/30/13
Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416): Evaluate productivity of Switchgrass, Energy sorghum, Canola, Camelina, and Jatropha irrigated with saline water under El Paso, TX, semi-arid field conditions. A secondary objective is to gather crop parameters for ALMANAC model calibration/validation. Approach (from AD-416): Conduct field trials on Switchgrass, Energy sorghum, Canola, Camelina, and Jatropha at the El Paso Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, using saline water for irrigation. Gather crop parameters for the ALMANAC model calibration/validation for simulating biomass productivity with saline irrigation water under semi-arid conditions. At the El Paso Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, a field experiment was initiated to evaluate performance of select cultivars of five bioenergy crops, 1) Switchgrass (Alamo and Grenville), 2) Energy sorghum (Blade and Evergreen), 3) Canola (DKL-30-42), 4) Camelina (Arizona and Florida), and 5) Jatropha under freshwater irrigation and extremely arid conditions on salt-affected soils. Plots were seeded in late April with respective bioenergy crop cultivars. In this first year of the experiment, energy sorghum cultivars performed well under elevated salinity and arid conditions of the study site and can be the potential bioenergy feedstock crops for saline regions. Alamo switchgrass performed better than Grenville cultivar during the first year of establishment on saline soil of the study site and also has the potential to be a cellulosic bioenergy crop for saline lands. Both the camelina cultivars did not perform well, probably due to high temperature and elevated salinity. Canola's oil seed yields obtained under elevated salinity were comparable to that obtained on good quality soils under freshwater irrigation. Jatropha tolerated salinity well and required about half of the water required for other bioenergy crops evaluated in this study. However, it did not tolerate the frost/cold temperature in the winter months, and hence was not suited for the study site.