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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #444520

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

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 3090-13000-016-069-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 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 collaborations 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 incorporating 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. Research under this agreement will address all five of the project’s stated objectives. Additional physiological data that could be used for Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) or other modeling, will be collected from a large-scale experiment with four irrigation levels and 10 cultivars (replicated four times per irrigation level) representing varying maturity characteristics for cotton that are suitable for both warmer- and cooler-season environments in the Texas and Kansas High Plain region. The field study will be conducted over three years. The following measurements will be collected throughout the season: plant height and total nodes (total growth); nodes above first square or white flower (maturity and developmental rate); boll distribution; boll opening at four heat unit accumulation levels by cultivar and irrigation; canopy size, including normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) or a similar vegetation index, and ground cover fraction on a weekly basis. Seed lint will be collected at crop maturity to determine, and the lint will be subjected to fiber quality analyses. Weather data will be collected daily with measurements of high and low temperature, rainfall, windspeed, and solar radiation. Also, plant canopy temperature measurements will be collected weekly. Temperature and cotton growth data will be used to determine if heat units adequately account for cotton development and yields in the region. Field data will be inputted for economic analysis and to prepare for DSSAT training. Following training, analysis will be conducted and modeled for FY23, FY24 and FY25 data sets. Economic budgets will be developed using field data from Lubbock as well as other sites in the Texas Panhandle and Southwest Kansas. Estimated returns and profits will be generated for all irrigation treatments and locations. These distributions will be simulated to understand the risk (probability) of achieving positive profits in thermo-limited areas of production. Once the profit distributions have been created, economic optimization modeling will project the long-term profit of producer net income and water use in each area. These analyses will estimate the risks for thermo-limited cotton production in the region and the value of irrigation water.