Optimizing Water Use for Three Old World Bluestems in the Texas High Plains

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2002: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $6,000.00
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Vivien Allen
Texas Tech University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops, grass (misc. perennial), hay


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: irrigation
  • Education and Training: demonstration, focus group, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance
  • Soil Management: soil chemistry
  • Sustainable Communities: urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Agriculture in the Texas High Plains is challenged by rapid depletion of ground water. Warm-season grasses offer opportunities for grazing but information is needed on comparative water use efficiencies. Three old world bluestems (Bothriochloa caucasica, ‘Caucasian’; B. ischaemum, ‘Spar’; and B. bladhii, ‘Dahl’) were grown under dryland and low, medium, and high irrigation levels to determine water use efficiency, yield, and nutritive value during 2001 to 2003. Amount of water applied in the high treatment was 100% replacement of potential evapotranspiration (PET) minus precipitation. Medium and low treatments were spaced evenly and calculated as 66 and 33% of the high treatment; the dryland treatment received no irrigation (0%). In 2003, Caucasian was more water use efficient than Spar; no differences were observed among species in 2001 and 2002. Caucasian and Dahl consistently outyielded Spar by about 30%. Maximum yields resulted from a high irrigation level but forage nutritive value was higher under low irrigation. These data provide information for optimizing water use, nutritive value, and for selecting an optimum between irrigation water invested and total nutrient yield.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The overall objective was to determine forage growth and nutrient yield per unit of added water (water use efficiency) for three warm-season perennial grasses in Southern High Plains.

    Specific objectives included:
    To determine the influence of dryland, and low, medium, and high irrigation levels on dry matter (DM) yield, water use efficiency (WUE; kg DM ha-1 mm-1 water), nutritive value, plant morphology including percentage live/dead and leaf/stem ratio of Caucasian, Spar, and Dahl bluestems.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.