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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SUSTAINING RURAL ECONOMIES THROUGH NEW WATER MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 6209-13000-013-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Jan 26, 2007
End Date: Jan 25, 2012

Objective:
1. Improve water management, both irrigation & precipitation, within existing cropping systems, that can decrease dependence on groundwater resources at farm/water district scales. 2. Improve the design, performance, & management of irrigation practices & systems at farm/water district scales. 3. Develop common methodologies for assessing current & future groundwater resource capabilities for the Ogallala Aquifer & the interrelationships with future climate forecasts, cropping patterns, & institutional regulations. 4. Explore opportunities to reduce dependence on groundwater resources by developing & evaluating integrated crop & livestock systems that are used in conjunction with improved irrigation practices at farm/water district scales. 5. Develop & evaluate water saving technologies, including wastewater reuse technologies, for concentrated animal feeding operations & industries that process agricultural commodities. 6. Estimate economic impacts of various water management activities & strategies at farm, water district & regional scales. 7. Develop a comprehensive data & information program for policy makers, producers, water professionals, & students (K-12 & college) in respect to the Ogallala Aquifer & its importance & use. 8. Develop & evaluate water conserving technologies applicable to the Ogallala Aquifer region of the United States, the Southern U.S. Great Plains & the Caldera Aquifer region in Mexico. 9. Develop & evaluate effective strategies for enhancing agricultural productivity & enhancing rural economies in the Southern U.S. Great Plains & the Caldera Aquifer region in Mexico with variable climate & precipitation resources, especially under deficit irrigation, dryland, and/or rangeland regimes. 10. Improve infiltration & minimize soil water evaporation for increased soil water storage for efficient use of soil water under dryland & deficit irrigated cropping systems. 11. Develop conservation tillage & residue management systems that optimize crop & integrated crop-livestock productivity & restore degraded soils. 12. Adapt, refine, develop, & implement soil water & crop simulation models to evaluate alternative agronomic & water management strategies, specifically for a semi-arid, advective environment for dryland & deficit irrigated lands. 13. Determine methods for improved quantification of evapotranspiration & crop coefficients under all constraints in order to improve irrigation scheduling & water use efficiency. 14. Develop remote sensing technologies & tools designed for improved prediction of crop water use & water stress at field/watershed spatial scales. 15. Develop, test, & implement feedback systems for spatially & temporally variable irrigation application of water & nutrients, & develop, test & implement improved sensors for soil water content & plant stress. 16. Develop & validate remote sensing technologies & procedures to enhance spatially & temporally variable crop water status feedback systems for use in variable rate irrigation systems. 17. Quantify & improve crop water use efficiency in dryland/irrigated cropping systems in relation to tillage, irrigation, & crop management practices.

Approach:
This cooperative project between the ARS (Bushland and Lubbock, Texas), Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, and West Texas A&M University, elucidates innovative water conservation technologies appropriate for the Ogallala Aquifer region of the U.S. to enhance and sustain rural economies. The in-house research program addresses issues related to soil and water management practices in cropping and integrated crop-livestock systems, and irrigation management and automation for increased water use efficiency (WUE). Knowledge of the processes affecting soil water content during a growing season will facilitate refinement of models to simulate water balance and assist in assessing the merits of alternative practices. Longer-term studies will be used to quantify effects of reduced tillage on crop yield, WUE, and soil physical characteristics for wheat-sorghum-fallow crop rotations and alternative cropping sequences. Several experiments focusing on different hydrological aspects and time scales will investigate management effects on soil water and availability to crops utilizing watershed, remote sensing, and meteorological networks. Research approaches related to irrigation management include determinations of crop water use by weighing lysimeters, neutron scattering methods, etc. Experiments include variations in irrigation methods, irrigation amount, tillage, and/or crop and crop rotation. Automatic irrigation systems based on sensing of crop water status are being engineered and tested. Remote sensing approaches to water use prediction are expected to improve their utility in decision making by farm managers, irrigation projects or water districts, and policy makers. Support from cooperating university is evaluated annually. Work plans are developed for each project objective describing research to be conducted during 1- or 2-year period. Yearly workshops are held with stakeholders and cooperating scientists; these workshops are used to review progress, re-define or clarify research priorities, and inform stakeholders, project leaders and administrators. Annual and final reports are used to document progress of the research.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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