Variable deficit irrigation in cotton can help improve yields, save water

  • May 29, 2023

Timing of deficit determines effect on yield and water-use efficiency

Cotton producers struggling with available water after drought and dropping water tables can maximize crop yields from limited water with some planning and implementation of variable deficit irrigation, according to research by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists.A team of Texas A&M AgriLife researchers recently published “Evaluation of growth-stage-based variable deficit irrigation strategies for cotton production in the Texas High Plains” in the Agricultural Water Management journal.

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Rangeland management is key to sustaining the Ogallala Aquifer

  • February 21, 2023

Spanning from South Dakota to Texas, the Ogallala Aquifer is the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.  But despite its size, the Ogallala is drying up. Scientists have reported for years that, if recharge and use continue at current rates, research shows that much of the Ogallala in Texas could be depleted as soon as 2100. However, there are strategies to help slow the depletion, and one key could be rangeland management, according to new research published in Rangeland Ecology & Management and co-authored by Ed Rhodes, Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research specialist and Ph.D. student at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University at Kingsville.

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Ogallala Aquifer Program scientists are requested to submit a detailed Project Plan by May 6

  • February 01, 2022

Ogallala Aquifer Program (OAP) scientists are requested to submit a detailed Project Plan (suggested length 3-5 pages) that addresses the overall OAP Goal of “Developing and evaluating water management strategies and technologies for maintaining and/or enhancing the economic viability of the agriculture industry and the vitality of the Southern Ogallala Aquifer Region.” The process for this year will be similar to the past, but not identical and due dates are sooner. Project Plan Narratives are due by May 06, 2022 in a Word document formatBudgets are due May 20, 2022. Please send budgets as Excel files using the template provided.

NIFA Impacts: Saving the Ogallala Aquifer, Supporting Farmers

  • April 30, 2020

A new simulation modeling study, conducted by the Ogallala Water Coordinated Agricultural Project and funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, may help farmers conserve Ogallala’s groundwater. This study may improve the amount of irrigated wheat grown and promote proper fertilizer application using mathematical models and carefully collected data. Winter wheat, a critical crop grown for global consumption, is being studied under different irrigation and fertilizer amounts. Results show that farmers may be able to use half the amount of water that they usually need to effectively irrigate their wheat crops. Using less water can help save the Ogallala Aquifer.

Read more.

Ogallala Aquifer Summit in Amarillo postponed amid COVID-19 concerns

  • March 10, 2020

The declaration of the COVID-19 viral disease as a pandemic by the World Health Organization and the increasing number of institutional travel restrictions related to COVID-19 has prompted postponement of the 2020 Ogallala Aquifer Summit.

Brent Auvermann, Ph.D., director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo and program chair for the conference, said the summit is important enough to reschedule, but for now safety and attendance is the primary concern.

“Enough of our participating and allied institutions have implemented out-of-state travel restrictions that would decimate our participation,” Auvermann said. “This is too important of an interstate event to try to pull it off with a skeleton crew from one state.”

He said updates on the rescheduling of the event will be posted on the 2020 Ogallala Aquifer Summit website.

Read more.

Ogallala Aquifer Summit to tackle tough management questions

  • March 02, 2020

“Tackling Tough Questions” is the name of and framework within which participants will work at the 2020 Ogallala Aquife Summit, set March 31-April 1 at Embassy Suites in Amarillo.

Brent Auvermann, Ph.D., director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo and program chair for the conference, said this summit is for anyone concerned about water, whether a public official, agricultural producer, consumer or youth.

More information on the summit or registration links can be found at 2020 Ogallala Aquifer Summit.  Texas A&M AgriLife is co-hosting the summit with the Ogallala Water project, Kansas Water Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Ogallala Aquifer Program.

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CASNR researchers focus on improving Ogallala Aquifer water use efficiency

  • October 09, 2019

A group of researchers in Texas Tech University's College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources recently received funding from the USDA as part of a continuing cooperative agreement on the efficient use of water in agriculture.

Led by Chuck West, director of the CASNR Water Center and the Thornton Distinguished Chair in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, the consortium was awarded $213,568 from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. This funding will be used to conduct studies specifically targeted for water efficiency practices on the Great Plains of the United States that lie over the Ogallala Aquifer, a major source of irrigation for crops and livestock.

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USDA offices studying possibility of future without Ogallala Aquifer

  • July 14, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Lubbock studies several different possibilities in their research regarding the aquifer, including the idea that the aquifer may not be able to be used in the future. A big focus of the Lubbock USDA’s research is geared toward what the best farming practices can be with only rainfall, as they try to get away from using the Ogallala Aquifer.

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Texas A&M Chancellor’s Research Initiative focuses on building a new body of Ogallala Aquifer research

  • May 19, 2019

With the economic value of the Texas Panhandle doubling in the last 20 years, the Texas A&M University System created a a Chancellor’s Research Initiative to bring together human resources to secure the sustainability of the Ogallala Aquifer region through efficient water irrigation and agricultural methods.

Read more.



Integrating center pivot irrigation control technologies goal of Texas A&M study

  • January 28, 2019

New center pivot irrigation technologies are only beneficial if they are being used, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research engineer in Amarillo.

Thomas Marek is leading a team from Texas A&M AgriLife and Texas A&M University to ensure the latest advancements in agricultural irrigation management can be readily integrated for applications in the field.

Grain sorghum irrigation water-use efficiency dependent on weather conditions

  • January 24, 2019

Grain sorghum production is highly susceptible to changes in climatic conditions, more so than to different irrigation regiments a producer might implement on the crop, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research modeling study. The results of the study, “Simulation of efficient irrigation management strategies for grain sorghum production over different climate variability classes,” were recently published in Agricultural Systems journal.

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Water for plant growth: The foundation of the global food supply and ecosystem services

  • November 29, 2018

Professor Robert Aiken, Research Crop Scientist at the Northwest Research – Extension Center and Dr. Ramesh Dhungel, Research Associate at Kansas State University both explain why water is required for plant growth, the foundation of the global food supply and ecosystem services

OAP featured in txH2O

  • November 02, 2018

The Texas Water Resources Institute recently published the Fall 2018 issue of its magazine, txH2O, highlighting the range of research activities across the Ogallala Aquifer region, including the Ogallala Water Coordinated Agricultural Project and the Ogallala Aquifer Program.

Staff writers interviewed researchers from the Ogallala Water Coordinated Agricultural Project and the Ogallala Aquifer Program, two large research efforts supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other articles include topics about 21st century irrigation tools, celebrating 40 years of low pressure center pivot irrigation and how researchers are helping farmers conserve water with field day events. Read more.

Water Technology Field Day features unique ‘three-for-one’

  • August 10, 2018

The Kansas State University Southwest Research and Extension Center in Garden City will host a unique three-for-one field day Aug. 15 at Roth Farms, located north of Holcombe.

The Water Technology Field Day features many of the technologies that highlight the successful Roth family farm, but activities will also include speakers on the Ogallala Aquifer center pivot technology program, and demonstrations on soil water sensor technology.

The field day is free, including lunch, and begins at 10 a.m. at the Roth Farm, which is located near the corner of Lowe and Ritchel Roads, approximately four miles northwest of Holcombe.

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Farmers, Kansas Water Office, K-State to present water technology field days

  • August 02, 2018

Technology keeps evolving to help crop producers make every drop of water count on the fields. To demonstrate the latest in crop irrigation technology, farmers in numerous counties are teaming with the Kansas Water Office and Kansas State University to present Water Technology Field Days in several locations in August.

Summer Crops/OAP Center Pivot Irrigation Field Day set Aug. 9 at Bushland

  • July 10, 2018

A Summer Crops/OAP Center Pivot Irrigation Field Day will be hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service Aug. 9 at the Conservation and Production Research Laboratory.

The event is free and will begin at 8 a.m. with registration in Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s new equipment storage barn. Attendees should come to the research farm, located 1 mile west of Bushland on the south side of Interstate 40, where there will be further directions to the event site. Following a welcome, buses will load at 8:45 a.m. for the morning tours.

“We wanted to have a chance to show producers some of the most advanced work being done with irrigation both in row crops and vegetables through our collaborative efforts here at the CPRL,” said Dr. David Brauer, USDA-ARS laboratory director and OAP administrator, Bushland.

Read more.

Meeting helps citizens, officials from eight states to share ideas and concerns

  • April 09, 2018

More than 200 people from agriculture and other industries came together April 9-10 to discuss the challenges and opportunities for preserving groundwater in the Ogallala Aquifer region, a large resource that touches parts of eight states from South Dakota to Texas.

The Ogallala Aquifer Summit marked a key accomplishment in the 50-year water vision for Kansas, a plan set forth in 2013 by then Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

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Ogallala Aquifer Program research featured in journal

  • February 02, 2018

The Ogallala Aquifer Program (OAP) was featured in the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, a publication of the Universities Council on Water Resources. The issue’s theme is addressing irrigation aquifer depletion in the Ogallala Aquifer, and Dr. Kevin Wagner, the Oklahoma Water Resources Center director and former deputy director of the Texas Water Resources Institute, is the issue editor.

The OAP, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is a research-education consortium seeking solutions from problems arising from declining water availability from the Ogallala Aquifer in western Kansas and the Texas High Plains. The consortium is led by the ARS laboratories in Bushland and Lubbock, Texas. University partners are Kansas State University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Service, Texas Tech University and West Texas A&M University.

Water use, drought-tolerant hybrids still key to dryland crop production

  • November 21, 2017

Risk management is the name of the game when it comes to growing dryland sorghum and corn, which both offer cropping alternatives “when and if” conditions are right, according to recent Texas A&M AgriLife studies.

Side-by-side dryland grain sorghum and dryland corn studies were planted this past season at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research station near Bushland by Dr. Qingwu Xue, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant physiologist in Amarillo, and Dr. Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist in Amarillo.

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Ogallala Aquifer 101: an overview of current research projects on this groundwater giant

  • June 05, 2017

Stretching from Texas to South Dakota, the Ogallala Aquifer is the largest underground water reservoir in the United States.

It covers 174,000 square miles in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Although the Ogallala is a major source of water for agricultural, municipal and industrial development, it is also being depleted as withdrawals exceed recharge. Multiple research and outreach efforts are working to ensure the sustainable use of these groundwater resources.

Field day to highlight wheat research impact on food supply

  • April 24, 2017

At least 3 billion loaves of bread in the Texas Panhandle alone every year – that’s the difference Texas A&M AgriLife Research is making, according to hosts of the annual Wheat Field Day.

Wheat research, and the difference it makes in the food supply chain, will be highlighted during the annual field day May 17 at the Texas A&M AgriLife facilities near Bushland.

AgriLife Research is co-hosting the event with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and West Texas A&M University.

Cover Crop Field Day planned at K-State HB Ranch

  • April 24, 2017

Kansas State University will host a Cover Crop Field Day on Friday, May 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the K-State HB Ranch in southeast Trego County. The ranch is at 39008 147 Highway in Brownell, Kansas.

K-State researchers will discuss ongoing research efforts at the HB Ranch evaluating cover crop management options for farmers growing dryland wheat.

WTAMU Faculty Members Win First Place for Research Presentation

  • February 19, 2017

A research poster presentation by two faculty members from the Department of Agricultural Sciences at West Texas A&M University won first place at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association 49th annual meeting Feb. 4-7 in Mobile. Ala.

The award-winning poster by Dr. Bridget Guerrero, assistant professor of agricultural business and economics, and Dr. Lal Almas, professor of agricultural business and economics, was titled as “Impact of Volatile Commodity Prices and Investment Costs on the Economic Feasibility of Subsurface Drip Irrigation.” It was among 45 posters presented.

Read more.

High tunnel-grown tomatoes go to Amarillo supermarket

  • November 18, 2016

Dr. Charlie Rush is claiming success – tomatoes from a Texas A&M AgriLife Research high tunnel project are being sold in an Amarillo grocery store.

And now the real work begins.

“We delivered tomatoes to United Supermarket in Amarillo, and they were thrilled to get them,” Rush said. “The next day we delivered jalapenos and poblano peppers. We can produce a quality product and there is clearly a market for the produce.

“Now, we need to work on maximizing yields, cropping systems and pest management, provide an economic analysis and convince a few growers to give it a go.” Read more.

Forage sorghum management, hybrids determine silage value

  • October 26, 2016

Unique data for forage sorghums, including varying feed values and management needs of different hybrids, is coming out of a Texas A&M AgriLife trial being conducted near Bushland.

“On the Texas High Plains, forage sorghums are a very good fit with the livestock industry, especially as dairy and beef cattle forage needs increase at the same time as we become water-limited across the Ogallala Aquifer region,” said Dr. Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist in Amarillo.

South Texas irrigation training manual published

  • July 27, 2016

South Texas agricultural irrigators have a new resource available to help them improve irrigation management and water conservation, according to a Texas Water Resources Institute official.

The “South Texas Irrigation Training Program Manual,” a publication of the institute and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, is available at:

Decline of the Ogallala Aquifer has left farmers fearful for their future

  • July 19, 2016

DUMAS — Deep in the Texas Panhandle, where the decline of the Ogallala Aquifer has left farmers fearful for their future, Harold Grall is hoping his field of tiny green corn plants will survive with minimal watering.

“We’re doing everything that we know possible that we can do to conserve water,” Grall, a corn farmer, said as his pickup bounced toward the 120-acre field.

He planted the cornfield later than most, in an effort to capture more summer rainfall and reduce the need for Ogallala water. He also did not water it before planting the corn seeds, a risky move for land parched after three years of drought.

AgriLife Extension helping data-gathering equipment ‘speak’ the same language

  • March 24, 2016

Agriculture production today is very data sensitive and includes many tools with technologies that don’t all work well together. One Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist is bringing a project to the High Plains to change that.

But he needs some producers to do field testing.

Dr. Charles Hillyer, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineering specialist in Amarillo, is part of the Precision Ag Irrigation Leadership, or PAIL, project.

Water conservation policy effectiveness depends on farmer economics

  • December 27, 2015

VERNON – Farming is a business, and the actions of farmers will be based on economics – even when it comes to water conservation, according to a recent study by Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

Extremely small recharge rates in the Ogallala Aquifer indicate depletion is inevitable, and that has policymakers scrambling to find ways to prolong its life and ensure a smooth transition to the dryland production to minimize impacts on the overall economy, said Dr. Seong Park, AgriLife Research economist in Vernon.

AgriLife Extension publications outline agriculture impact to Ogallala Aquifer

  • December 12, 2015

Six publications analyzing the water use of the crop and livestock industry in the Southern Ogallala Aquifer region have been completed by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists.

Water use in the southern Ogallala region has greatly exceeded the recharge rate for the past several decades, leading to a steady decline in the aquifer, said Dr. Steve Amosson, Regents Fellow and AgriLife Extension economist in Amarillo.

This decline and water use in the agricultural sector had many stakeholders questioning whether the economic benefits to the region’s economy justified the agricultural operations water use, Amosson said.

The objectives of the study, supported by the federally funded Ogallala Aquifer Program, was to evaluate the impacts the various agricultural sectors are having on the Ogallala Aquifer, both in water use and economic impact, he said. Read more.

Sen. Pat Roberts recognized as 2015 Friend of Agricultural Economics

  • October 01, 2015

The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics and the National Association of Agricultural Economics Administrators on Sept. 28 recognized U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, by presenting him the 2015 Friend of Agricultural Economics Award for his employment of economics to policy issues involving agriculture, natural resources, food and nutrition topics....Featherstone also cited Roberts’ support of the Ogallala Aquifer Program, a consortium of researchers from several universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is searching for solutions to the depletion of groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer. Read more.

Decline of Ogallala Aquifer tackled by multi-state group of researchers

  • September 14, 2015

The Ogallala Aquifer, stretching from South Dakota to Texas, covers 174,000 square miles, including 36,080 square miles in the Texas High Plains. In western Kansas and the Texas High Plains, the aquifer is declining at an unacceptable rate. Aquifer depletion rates of 1 to 3 feet per year are common in that region, and recharges are very small. Water availability, cost and policy, together with technology development and adoption rates, are reshaping the rural landscape.

In 2003 a multi-state group of researchers tackled the problems associated with aquifer decline, and since then the Ogallala Aquifer Program has addressed the complex issues related to sustaining the Ogallala Aquifer and maintaining a stable rural economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), with identified project funds provided by Congress, funds the project.

Program is recognized with prestigious award

  • September 13, 2015

Through the years, the Ogallala Aquifer Program (OAP) has won several awards for its work on improving the sustainability of agricultural industries and rural communities in the region through innovative scientific research and technology transfer.

In 2013, the program received the Honor Award for Excellence from the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for sustaining rural prosperity on the drought-prone Southern High Plains by finding solutions to problems arising from declining water in the Ogallala Aquifer. Read more.

Vegetable study targets water savings in the High Plains

  • April 09, 2015

Vegetable production is not new in the Texas High Plains, but it is being re-examined in a Texas A&M AgriLife Research study to see if it might offer a water-savings alternative to some cereal grain production.

“Everybody knows we are generally water short in the Texas High Plains and can no longer meet 100 percent of all crop water needs,” said Thomas Marek, AgriLife Research senior research engineer for irrigation water conservation and management in Amarillo. “We grow a tremendous amount of corn for the cattle industry. And we know from our regional water plan that corn production is going to have to be reduced in the future.”

Research seeks early detection of wheat streak mosaic virus

  • April 06, 2015

As spring growth of wheat begins, Texas A&M AgriLife Research studies indicate now might be the time to determine possible wheat streak mosaic virus infection and future management of the crop.

During the past three years, the AgriLife Research plant pathology and crop physiology programs in Amarillo have concentrated studies on the occurrence of wheat streak mosaic disease and how it impacts a crop’s water-use efficiency. The disease is caused by a virus transmitted by the wheat curl mite.

Texas Tech Ogallala Aquifer Research Team Wins National USDA Award

  • January 14, 2014

The depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer has made headlines the past several years and has been a concern to many who live on the Southern Great Plains region, including the Texas High Plains, along with portions of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The aquifer encompasses more than 170,000 square miles, making it a sizeable and vital water resource.

Ogallala Aquifer Preservation Program Wins Big Award

  • January 14, 2014

The Ogallala Aquifer is life to the high plains.  The depletion of that resource moved Kansas State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University, and West Texas A&M University to team up and work together to preserve the vital resource according to the High Plains Journal

Mobile Drip Irrigation Seeking Foothold in Western Kansas Farm Fields

  • January 01, 0001

In a region where some of the United States’ most productive farmland lies, Kansas State University researchers are putting a water-saving technology on the fast track.

Agricultural engineer Isaya Kisekka said he and other faculty in the university’s Southwest Research and Extension Center are finding ways to retrofit center pivot sprinklers with mobile drip irrigation tubes.