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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: AGRICULTURAL LAND MANAGEMENT TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCTIVITY AND NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION AT FARM AND WATERSHED SCALES

Location: Great Plains Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research Unit

Title: Land use change (1940-2004) in six aquifer regions in Zacatecas, Mexico

Authors
item Mojarro, Francisco -
item STEINER, JEAN
item Pardo Martinez, Jose Juan -
item Carreon, Aaron Medina -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 18, 2013
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Citation: Mojarro, F.D., Steiner, J.L., Pardo Martinez, J., Carreon, A. 2013. Land use change (1940-2004) in six aquifer regions in Zacatecas, Mexico. In: Mojarro Davila, F., de Leon Mojarro, B., Junez Ferrera, H.E., Bautista Capetillo, C.F., editors. Agua subterranea en Zacatecas. Zacatecas, Mexico: Agualy Sociedad. p. 81-94.

Interpretive Summary: In the years from 1940 to 1970, the development of the State of Zacatecas was based on extractive mining activities to sustain development. From 1965 and 1980, the attention turned agriculture, particularly to development of groundwater resources for irrigation. Due to the lack of a long-term plan for the sustainable exploitation, severe problems in the soil, natural vegetation and water degradation, have become a concern of the state and federal governments. The problem is not only declining water supply, but the entire physical and biological environment of the area. In six developed groundwater basins evaluated for this study, native flora - consisting of grasses, cactus, mesquite and various shrubs - has been in decline for decades. Past research have shown that soil vegetation cover plays a key role in affecting runoff, erosion, groundwater recharge, and water utilized in evapotranspiration. Recent advances in the remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) Support analyzes of changing patterns of land use and vegetation cover, which in turn affect biophysical processes related to degradation of water and land, ecosystem vulnerability, the condition of watersheds and biodiversity. The objective of this chapter is to analyze historical changes of land use pattern that occurred in six aquifer basins, and to develop a profile of the potential impacts of deforestation and agricultural practices on the water budget. From 1940 to 2004, over 280,250 ha of land was converted from native vegetation to agricultural land use. Recent unpublished studies by the Autonomous University of Zacatecas and the Department of Agriculture of the United States, based on the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) simulations, compared current land use to alternative strategies for rainfed cropping in the Calera Aquifer, one of the six aquifers included in this study. Specifically, rainfed maize and beans do not produce economically viable yields so the scenario for maize area was to convert 48% to rainfed oats and 26% grasses and shrubs. For beans, 13% of the area was converted to oats and 52% to native grasses and shrubs. The results indicated that conversion of maize and beans to native grasses and shrubs reduced surface runoff by 6 to 31% and virtually eliminated soil erosion. With the exception of the conversion of corn to oats, this increased surface runoff by 57%. Based on the positive simulation results, additional analysis is needed for the other five aquifers on the benefits of converting non-economic rainfed crops to alternative vegetative cover that reduce runoff and erosion.

Technical Abstract: In the years from 1940 to 1970, the development of the State of Zacatecas was based on extractive mining activities to sustain development. From 1965 and 1980, the attention turned agriculture, particularly to development of groundwater resources for irrigation. Due to the lack of a long-term plan for the sustainable exploitation, severe problems in the soil, natural vegetation and water degradation, have become a concern of the state and federal governments. The problem is not only declining water supply, but the entire physical and biological environment of the area. In six developed groundwater basins evaluated for this study, native flora - consisting of grasses, cactus, mesquite and various shrubs - has been in decline for decades. Past research have shown that soil vegetation cover plays a key role in affecting runoff, erosion, groundwater recharge, and water utilized in evapotranspiration. Recent advances in the remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) Support analyzes of changing patterns of land use and vegetation cover, which in turn affect biophysical processes related to degradation of water and land, ecosystem vulnerability, the condition of watersheds and biodiversity. The objective of this chapter is to analyze historical changes of land use pattern that occurred in six aquifer basins, and to develop a profile of the potential impacts of deforestation and agricultural practices on the water budget. From 1940 to 2004, over 280,250 ha of land was converted from native vegetation to agricultural land use. Recent unpublished studies by the Autonomous University of Zacatecas and the Department of Agriculture of the United States, based on the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) simulations, compared current land use to alternative strategies for rainfed cropping in the Calera Aquifer, one of the six aquifers included in this study. Specifically, rainfed maize and beans do not produce economically viable yields so the scenario for maize area was to convert 48% to rainfed oats and 26% grasses and shrubs. For beans, 13% of the area was converted to oats and 52% to native grasses and shrubs. The results indicated that conversion of maize and beans to native grasses and shrubs reduced surface runoff by 6 to 31% and virtually eliminated soil erosion. With the exception of the conversion of corn to oats, this increased surface runoff by 57%. Based on the positive simulation results, additional analysis is needed for the other five aquifers on the benefits of converting non-economic rainfed crops to alternative vegetative cover that reduce runoff and erosion.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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