Cropping Systems to Optimize Yield, Water and Nutrient Use Efficiency of Pearl Millet

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Principal Investigator(s):
Stephen C. Mason

Co-Principal Investigator(s):


Food demand in eastern and southern Africa (ESA) is increasing while soil water and nutrient deficits become more constraining. Water deficits are the greatest constraint to semi-arid crop production in the ESA causing an estimated 1,800,000 Mg yr-1 loss in sorghum production potential across Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Potential yield losses due to nutrient deficiencies are estimated to total ~2,000,000 Mg yr-1. Water and nutrient deficits enhance striga damage which is estimated to cause an additional production loss of 800,000 Mg yr-1. High global demand and high prices for basic commodities in early 2008 was expected to drive demand for and adoption of information and varieties from research and extension to enable increased productivity; however, world market prices have again dropped to near historical levels while the number of the world’s hungry continues to increase. In Ethiopia, research and extension activities on water conservation, water use efficiency, and nutrient management targeted to striga infested and non-infested areas emphasizing extension and achievement of adoption. A proposal is being developed with the International Drought Mitigation Center to seek funding for improved farmer responsiveness to anticipated harsher and more variable weather conditions associated with climate change which is to have pilot areas in Ethiopia and Mozambique. In eastern Uganda, tillage and soil fertility management research and extension activities will continue for striga-infested areas with expansion of technology transfer to northern Uganda. In central Tanzania, research on-farm evaluation and promotion of tillage options will continue in Dodoma and Singida regions for more productive and resilient production systems expecting that climate change will result in harsher and more variable weather conditions. Collaboration in Mozambique will continue to address issues of fertilizer nutrient use efficiency in diverse cropping systems through research and extension. A traveling workshop, coupled with an extension writing retreat, is planned for Jan 2010. A student from Mozambique is to begin Ph.D. studies at UNL in Jan 2010 and two students are being recruiting for M.Sc. study in an African university. The PI will make three visits to ESA during this period. Research in Nebraska will continue to focus on water and nitrogen use efficiency and finalized for management and comparative advantages of sweet sorghum as a bio-fuel crop. Extension activities in Nebraska resulting from previous fertilizer use and on-going tillage research will continue.


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The project has enhanced U.S. scientific capability by com- pleting two M.S. students, and incorporating research results into crop management courses taught at the University of Nebraska. It has enhanced the knowledge of sorghum/pearl millet cropping systems in the U.S. through publication of 9 scientific articles.

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