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The effect of two row spacing configurations and four water supply levels was investigated on sweet and fibre sorghum in Central Italy for two consecutive years. Results highlighted the influence of both irrigation and row spatial configuration on crop productivity. Indeed, several studies have pointed out the positive response of sorghum to irrigation in Mediterranean climate, as in this environment water stress represents one of the main limiting factors on crop productivity. On the other hand, few attempts have been made to explore the role of row spacing on energy sorghum productivity. Results outlined an average increase in sorghum dry biomass yield ranging from +23% to +79% at variable rates of water supply as compared to rainfed control. The positive effect of irrigation was also observed on leaf area index and radiation use efficiency. Moreover, we observed a crop yield increase, from 9% to 20%, under double row spacing compared to the standard planting pattern (i.e. single row spacing). Finally, it was confirmed the efficient use of water by sorghum and the great ability of sorghum to increase its biomass yield in response to increasing volumes of water supplied. Therefore, this work suggests how row spacing configuration and drip irrigation could be feasible technical options to increase sorghum biomass yields in Mediterranean environments. These techniques should be experienced by farmers towards a sustainable intensification of current cropping systems.
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