LUBBOCK, Texas (press release) – The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:
Since its inception in 2005, the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC) has promoted water conservation through technology and best management practices to improve the sustainability and profitability of High Plains agriculture. from Texas. One way to do this is through demonstration efforts at producer sites focused on multiple species of crops and irrigation systems.
With a recent grant from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), TAWC will be able to pursue a new line of research that will focus on water conservation through improved soil health.
The prize of $ 203,054 will promote a project led by Donna McCallister, assistant professor at the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR). This project will demonstrate economically viable soil and crop management practices that conserve irrigation water, improve rainwater capture and storage, and quantify the role of cover crops, fallows and rotations in crop production. improved soil health.
“We have not seen widespread adoption of cover crops in this area due to water resource constraints and potential negative economic risks,” said McCallister. âWhile cover crops are a great way to provide a windbreak for small seedlings, they can reduce the amount of water and the area available for the grower’s main crop. This study will focus on assessing the water use and economic viability of several species of cover crops with reduced tillage practices to help growers make informed decisions on whether to ‘adopt these practices.
At these demonstration sites, the TAWC uses conventional systems, pasture and various conservation tillage systems to cultivate a wide range of monoculture, multi-crop and forage systems while using numerous methods of cultivation. watering these crops, including furrow, center pivot, mobile precision drip irrigation and underground drip irrigation systems. This enabled the cultivation of cotton, sorghum, maize, grass seed and other specialty crops as well as perennial grasses, livestock and alfalfa.
It also allowed TAWC to make discoveries both in terms of products and economic analyzes which were used to educate producers on the best technologies and management strategies, and these were communicated through demonstrations. , field days, educational seminars and awareness raising events.
McCallister said the results of this project will help define sustainability in a region that integrates water conservation and soil health into economic indicators.
âThrough this project, we will select cooperative growers to demonstrate the effects of crop rotations and multispecies cover crops on soil moisture and health,â said McCallister. âWe will collect their data on the farm to analyze economic profitability and sustainability through the Field Footprint Calculator. The TAWC project is unique because our education and awareness efforts focus on the conservation of the Ogallala aquifer and on testing technologies and best management practices to help producers save water and maximize profitability using real agricultural data.
Alongside McCallister on this project is Chuck West, director of the CASNR aquatic center and recently retired Thornton Distinguished Chair in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; Phil johnson, Chairman of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; and Rodolphe Ritz, associate professor at Department of Agricultural Education and Communication.
(Texas Tech University press release)