, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 389-406

Spatial and Temporal Variability of Sorghum Grain Yield: Influence of Soil, Water, Pests, and Diseases Relationships

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Abstract

This study was conducted to determine relationships between biotic and abiotic factors and to generate information needed to improve the management of site-specific farming (SSF). The effects of water (80% evapotranspiration (ET) and 50% ET), hybrid (drought-tolerant and -susceptible), elevation, soil texture, soil NO3--N, soil pH, and greenbugs (Schizaphis graminum) (Gb) on sorghum grain yield were investigated at Halfway, TX on geo-referenced locations on a 30-m grid in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Grain yields were influenced by interrelationships among many factors. Grain yields were consistently high under 80% ET treatment and in the upper slopes where the clay and silt fractions of the soil were high. Soil NO3--N, rainfall, hybrid, and Gb effects on grain yields were seasonally unstable. Soil NO3--N increased grain yield when water was abundant and depressed grain yields when water was limiting. Plant density effects on grain yield were confounded with hybrid responses to drought and Gb infestation. Managing seasonally unstable factors is a major challenge for farmers and better ways to monitor crop growth and diagnose causes of poor plant growth are needed. To improve the management of SSF, effects of the relationships between biotic and abiotic factors on crop yield must be integrated and evaluated as a system. Based on our study, information on seasonally stable factors like elevation and soil texture is useful in identifying management zones for water and fertilizer application. Water and fertilizers management should be complemented by in-season management of seasonally unstable factors like soil NO3--N, rainfall, hybrid, and Gb effects on grain yield.