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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 3090-13000-015-06-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2012
End Date: Aug 31, 2017

The long-term goal of this project is to prolong the economic activity derived from the Ogallala Aquifer by providing knowledge, tools, and technologies for water conservation and scientifically sound water use policies. Specifically, the project focuses on: Objective 1. Improve the management of the Ogallala Aquifer by developing tools and knowledge of hydrological properties and water budget components; Subobjective 1.A: Improve the characterization of the Ogallala Aquifer including locations and rates of recharge; Subobjective 1.B: Integrate remotely-sensed data into water resource monitoring and decision support tools; Objective 2. Improve the efficiency by which agriculture converts water into food, feed, fuel and fiber; Subobjective 2.A: Improve irrigation scheduling technologies, strategies, and practices; Subobjective 2.B: Develop improved design, performance and management of irrigation control and application systems; Subobjective 2.C: Determine best management practices for water-limited production of crop, fuel and forage in a semi-arid region; Subobjective 2.D: Improve knowledge of crop water demand and productivity at field, region and aquifer scales; Objective 3. Facilitate the adoption of water conservation practices by providing estimates of the socio-economic impacts of various water management activities and policies; Objective 4. Provide data, knowledge, and decision support systems to farmers, ranchers, water-policy makers, and the general public.

This cooperative project, Ogallala Aquifer Program, between ARS (Bushland and Lubbock, Texas), Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, and West Texas A&M University, elucidates innovative management technologies appropriate for the Ogallala Aquifer region of the U.S. to enhance and sustain rural economies. The results are applicable to other areas in which there is increasing demands on the water supply. The research program addresses issues related to water management practices in cropping and integrated crop-livestock systems, and irrigation management and automation for increased water use efficiency. 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 different tillage practices and crop rotations on crop yield, water use efficiency, and soil physical characteristics for wheat-sorghum-fallow crop rotations and alternative cropping sequences. Experiments include variations in irrigation methods, irrigation amount, tillage, and/or crop and crop rotation. University partners have critical roles in supporting the above activities as well as providing additional expertise in technology transfer, hydrology and economic assessments of existing and future water conservation technologies and policies. Economic assessments use county-level optimization models that begin with the initial county values for crop acreage, irrigated acreage, average saturated thickness, and depth to water. The models estimate the level of crop production and water use that optimize farm net income over 60 years. Crop yield will be determined by a production function that estimates yield as a response to applied water. The results of the county optimization models aggregated into sub-regional results for the socioeconomic analyses to forecast the effects of the policies on overall economic activity using the IMPLAN model. The Technology Transfer team works with other participating scientists to assist in developing audience-appropriate publications and presentations, incorporating various text, video, and even social-media friendly formats. Traditional effective extension delivery methods, including public and targeted audience meetings, workshops, field days, and mass media will be complemented by emerging delivery formats to accommodate and demonstrate relevance to a variety of audiences. Support from cooperating university is evaluated annually. Work plans are developed for each project describing the research to be conducted during a 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: 10/19/2017
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