Bioenergy production has become a national priority. Bioenergy crops are seen as a way to:
- Address the issue of greenhouse gas production
- Determine acceptable levels of crop residue removal while protecting soil from erosion
- Reduce the nation’s dependency on petroleum
The land resources and climate of Kansas are conducive to the production of many potential bioenergy crops – both traditional and cellulosic (biomass). The challenge being met by the bioenergy research team in Agronomy is to discover the realistic potential of each possible bioenergy crop in Kansas, both in terms of alternative fuel production and producer profitability.
- Analysis of profitability of bioenergy crops
- Determine the impacts of bioenergy feedstock production on soil and water quality.
- Development of cropping systems that supply bioenergy feedstocks and protect soil and water quality.
- Energy content of bioenergy crops produced under Kansas conditions
- Evaluate the bioenergy coproducts and their impact on crop productivity and soil chemical and physical properties.
- Productivity of specific bioenergy crops in different regions of Kansas
Center for Sorghum Improvement
Grain Sorghum is one of the most important dryland crops in the Kansas and the Central Great Plains. It is economically important in areas wherever low and erratic rainfall and high temperature limit the production of other summer crops.
Sorghum offers farmers the ability to reduce costs on irrigation and other on-farm expenses. As the pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer increases and less irrigation is possible, sorghum is a crop which will become even more important to farmers in the Great Plains and to the High Plains cattle feeding industry.
The K-State Center for Sorghum Improvement was initiated to enhance this vital crop resource.
Breeding & Genetics
Plant Physiology/Crop Production
Plant Pathology & Entomology
- Develop environmentally and economically sustainable cultural practices that increase the profitable production of high quality grain sorghum with unique functional properties.
- Develop new uses for grain sorghum in food and non-food applications, emphasizing the grain’s desirable characteristics such as absence of gluten and low glycemic index, as well as suitability for use in biofuel production.
- Improve the agronomic characteristics, yield potential, food, and feed value of grain sorghum through plant breeding and genetic improvement.
Crop modeling involves the application of computer science to agricultural situations. The goal is to develop new ways to predict the responses of plants or soils in agricultural ecosystems to changes in the macro or microenvironment. The crop modeling research team in Agronomy focuses on:
- Responses of plants to environmental changes
- Effect of management practices on agricultural greenhouse gas production
Crop Physiology & Ecology
Crops in Kansas are often exposed to many environmental during crop growing season leading to decreases biomass, grain yield and quality. Thus, crop production is always challenging to producers and researchers. The goal of the Crop Physiology and Ecology research program is to seek ways to help producers understand and overcome the risks associated with environmental stresses.
The main focus of our program is to conduct research that improves our understanding of how crop plants respond and adapt to changing environmental conditions. These conditions include abiotic factors such as water (drought), temperature (hot and cold temperatures), nutrient stress, biotic pest infestations as alterations in crop management strategies associated with genetic improvements and changes in cultural practices.
- Develop best management practices for efficient use of resources for maximizing crop yield and minimizing environmental risk.
- Understand crop responses to abiotic (drought, temperature, nutrient and climate change factors) and biotic (disease, pests and weeds) stress and quantify their impact on yield and quality.
- Use and improve crop growth simulation models to identify yield gaps, evaluate crop management practices, and impact of environmental, nutrient and biotic stresses on crop production.
- Abiotic stress management in soybean
- Develop sustainable crop, soil and water management practices in West Africa
- Drought and heat tolerance in sorghum
- Heat tolerance in wheat
- Heavy metal uptake by plants
- Improve sorghum and millet productivity in the semi-arid regions
- Plant water uptake and stomatal resistance
- Simulating impacts of climate change and climate variability
- Transpiration efficiency dynamics
- Winter survival and yield of winter canola in the southern Great Plains
Crop production research lies at the heart of the mission of the Department of Agronomy at K-State. Faculty in the department conduct research on a wide range of crop production issues, at locations throughout the state. Crop production research ranges from variety testing to cropping systems; cover crops to tillage systems; and much more. The primary areas of crop production research include:
- Variety testing
- Cropping systems and crop rotations
- Tillage systems
- Cover crops
- Alternative crops
There are many specific projects within each of these research areas each year. The pages for each faculty member below go into detail on the current crop production projects in which each researcher is involved.