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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #444354

Research Project: Collaborative Research and Outreach to Facilitate Cotton Production in the Thermo-limited Regions of the Southern Ogallala Aquifer - Phase 2 TAMU

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 3090-13000-016-067-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2023
End Date: Dec 31, 2026

This research is being conducted as a portion of the Ogallala Aquifer Program (OAP), an ARS led multi-university collaboration seeking solutions to decreasing groundwater availability from the Ogallala Aquifer in Western Kansas and on the Texas High Plains. The focus of this research is to conduct long-term research for irrigated cotton production in thermo-limited regions of the northern Texas Panhandle and Southwest Kansas. This will be accomplished by: Objective 1: Define best management practices to produce optimum yields of cotton within the region and varying groundwater resources. Objective 2: Document physiological traits that will aid in the development of best management practices. Objective 3: Improve crop growth simulation models and provide improved data bases for those models so that field research results can be extended beyond experimental sites. Objective 4: Develop crop enterprise budgets. Objective 5: Develop integrated models incorporated changing agronomic, hydrogeological, and economic components so resource utilization, and economics can be optimized.

Phase Two will build on the accomplishments of Phase One. In FY2020, the leadership team of the OAP committed itself to support a long term, multi-location study to promote profitable cotton production in areas in which corn has been the dominant crop as a means of reducing groundwater withdrawals. Cotton production in the Texas Panhandle and Southwest Kansas will be compared across two to three locations in this study. We will evaluate 3 populations (74,000, 124,000, and 173,000 plants per ha), 2 planting dates, at least 2 varieties (early, medium-early, and medium), and 2 irrigation levels at two locations in Texas and Southwest Kansas. Data has been collected from the field experiments in Texas and Southwest Kansas for at least two years during Phase One. Data will be collected for at least another two years under Phase Two to examine the effects of seasonal climate on results. Inclusion of other sites will be considered. Irrigation levels will represent full irrigation and a deficit irrigation scheme whereby full irrigation is only applied at a strategic growth stage. Campbell Scientific weather stations will be placed at all locations. Plots will be hand harvested. Fiber quality will be determined. After first square, data regarding flower and seed set will be collected weekly. At harvest, plots will be hand harvested by fruiting position for whole plant and within boll yield components. These data will be utilized to document early season vegetative growth, the rate and timing of cutout, and the location and yield contribution of the last effective boll population. Soil water measurements will be made at critical growth stages (emergence, pinhead square, first bloom, full bloom, first cracked boll, and harvest). Soil water measurements will be collected using a neutron moisture gage if available. The economics and expected relative profitability of irrigated cotton will be evaluated in this project. Historical crop enterprise budgets for irrigated cotton will be examined, along with current projected costs and returns. Projected farmer-level cotton budget estimates will be developed. Economic impact of cotton production will be determined using IMPLAN. A risk/ reward profitability simulation comparing yield from optimal management for cotton, corn, and sorghum as identified by field trials will be conducted. The risks and insurance implications (premiums, simulation of potential indemnities, etc.) will be models and evaluated. The extension team will: 1. Leverage existing Extension technology transfer networks and medias. 2. Develop “train the trainer” resources. 3. Apply a systems approach to address production issues.