Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cowpeas could add sustainability to cropping systems

13.10.2005


Ground left fallow in the High Plains to store soil moisture between crops may be better off with a legume crop such as cowpeas, according to a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher.



Dr. Bill Payne of Amarillo said he is trying to make the region’s wheat-sorghum-fallow cropping system more sustainable by getting rid of the fallow component.

Leaving the land idle for one cropping season is a way to retain soil moisture for the following crop. However, Payne said, this practice doesn’t store that much moisture. And it oxidizes the soil organic matter, leaving the land subject to erosion and releasing carbon into the air, thereby contributing to global warming.


Planting a legume crop, such as cowpeas, allows the producer three crops in three seasons, rather than two crops in three seasons, he said. The residue from the cowpeas also adds organic matter, which tends to decompose faster than cereal crop residue, Payne said.

"What we’d like to do is plant it the year after sorghum and before fall-planted wheat," he said. "What we’re trying to do now is find the right maturity group among cowpea varieties."

Cowpeas can be grown in as little as 65 days, allowing for a brief fallow period before the wheat is planted. A longer-season variety can go until a killing frost, Payne said. The research is aimed at finding a balance between biomass production and water conservation, he said.

"The options would be to hay it or graze it as a forage, or if there’s a market for the peas, a producer could go for that," Payne said.

The crop can be harvested at flowering for forage and at pea production, as with blackeyed peas. By doing both, he can compare water usage and determine potential water stress on the next crop.

"Our hope is the wheat yields will increase following cowpeas, as well as the sorghum," Payne said. "We see that in other parts of the world, but here we have to be careful of the water component."

Preliminary data shows the more cowpea biomass produced, the larger the yield increase of the following cereal crop, he said. However, the study must run for at least six years or two entire crop rotations to confirm the results.

Determining the sustainability characteristics -- changes to the soil physical and chemical properties -- will take even longer, he said.

"We can show now that growing cowpeas results in less soil water storage at wheat planting than fallowing," Payne said. "But so far, it has been such a small amount, it’s insignificant as far as yield goes."

Cowpeas’ water requirements depend on the maturity group, but the goal is to find a variety that will survive on 12 inches of rainfall, he said.

During 2003’s dry growing season, Payne said, the sorghum died off before the cowpeas, which means cowpeas is a very drought tolerant crop.

Payne said some experts are concerned that cowpeas grown on any significant scale in the U.S. would flood the human consumption market and lower the price. However, as forage, cowpeas shows a lot of potential, he said.

In Africa, tests show cattle’s weight gain doubles when cowpea fodder is added to their diet, Payne said.

"I think producers are looking for a high-protein forage crop," he said. "There’s a reason cowpeas are called ’cow’ pea. Earlier on, cows grazed it throughout the South."

The protein value of cowpeas ranges from 22 percent to 30 percent, Payne said.

"We’ll have to work with producers and (Texas Cooperative) Extension agents to see how it works into a production system," he said. "Timing of pasture availability will be important. We want to try to time its availability with the greatest demand, so there are still things to work out."

Dr. Bill Payne | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://agnews.tamu.edu/
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>