The Texas A&M AgriLife Research unit at Amarillo, TX focuses on the Texas Panhandle and neighboring states with similar issues. The Amarillo research is composed of three research properties located in Amarillo and Bushland, as well as selected cooperative off-station locations.
Researchers strive to address issues relevant to the Panhandle region such as cattle feedlot nutrition and health, water and air quality for concentrated animal feeding operations, and wheat breeding and genetics.
Other areas include precision agriculture, integrated crop and livestock production systems, irrigation water management, crop physiology, plant pathology, integrated pest management, biological control of insects and weeds; and bioenergy feedstocks from animal residues and crops.
Key Research Areas
- Cattle Feeding with Distiller’s Grains
- Beef Sustainability
- Cropping Systems
- Ogallala Aquifer Program
- Monocot Improvement Program
- Air Quality
- Amarillo researchers estimate that a Panhandle feedlot with a capacity over 32,000 head could save about $40,000 per year by adopting dust-abatement practices alone.
- Wheat genetic and genomic studies on validation and application of high throughput molecular markers for wheat yield, yield components, resistances to insects and diseases, and superior end-use quality.
- Wheat cultivars, TAM 105 and TAM 107 were popular in the history; TAM 111 is the most planted hard red winter wheat in the U.S. Other popular varieties include TAM 112, TAM 113, TAM 114 and TAM 204.
- Developing wheat germplasm lines with tolerance to multiple stresses and improved end-use quality.
- Study results indicate the common practice of supplementing protein to cattle consuming low-quality forage results in beneficial decreases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of intake and alters microbial community structure.
- Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M University signed a multi-year agreement with private industry to support and develop advanced wheat varieties for Texas, U.S., and the world.
Cattle – Discover Sustainable Solutions for Beef and Dairy Cattle Production
The ruminant nutrition and health team focuses on improving feeding strategies through implementation of alternative feed technologies, forage and grain processing, and appropriate utilization of byproduct feeds. The ruminant animal health team partners with other scientists, veterinarians and local stakeholders in research involving Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) and other areas of importance to beef and dairy cattle health.
Jennings is working towards management strategies to:
- measure and validate environmental impact indicators
- discover alternatives to products affecting consumer perception
- maintain cattle production during times of limited resources and drought.
Capik is working to:
- Understand the relationships between the various risk factors and pathogens involved in BRD
- Improve the industry’s ability to accurately diagnose BRD
- Identify appropriate interventions to mitigate BRD risk
Irrigation Water Management and Water-Limited Crop Production
Researcher: Thomas Marek
The Amarillo water management team’s focus is on:
- Tools and technologies for managing irrigation in a water-limited future with a particular focus on irrigation technologies that enhance precision of application in space, time and quantity
- Production management strategies for maximizing net economic returns with limited water supplies
- Integration of water management into broader agro-ecological management strategies, which produce parsimonious management outcomes that balance economic and social needs with natural resource needs.
This research occurs within the unique constraints of the Ogallala Aquifer and, as such, includes a focus on methods that extend the lifetime of irrigated agriculture within the constraints of a finite water supply.
Environmental Quality & Resilience
Subject to the availability of research funding and the dynamic regulatory environment, the Environmental Quality research program focuses on measurement and modelling of atmospheric emissions that contribute to climate change. These emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ammonia, fine particles. This work will guide producers and better inform regulatory agencies and policy makers.
Innovative and emerging technologies – including remote sensing platforms, open path optical sensors and low-cost community-based monitoring approaches – will be employed to yield a greater coverage of data in areas of community concern. Particular focus is on the aerial transport of chemicals and material of biological origin attached to both coarse and fine particulate matter, including microbial or anti-microbial resistant communities..
Wheat – Yield Improvement Under Dryland Conditions and Drought
The wheat improvement team at Amarillo is focusing on the molecular mechanisms of biotic stresses (greenbug, Hessian fly, wheat curl mite, wheat streak mosaic virus) and abiotic stress (drought and heat). Their research includes mapping genes and loci controlling resistance and tolerance, developing high throughput molecular markers and applying marker-assisted breeding.
They seek to understand the physiological mechanisms of these stresses by evaluating their effects on the biomass at critical growth stages, grain yield and yield components. And evaluate the development of germplasm lines and cultivars adapted to multiple of these stresses.
Pest Management Strategies
The Pest Management and Plant Stress group is focusing their research on tactics that improve the resilience of plants to abiotic and biotic stress and enhance sustainability and profitability of row crop and vegetable production in Texas.
Specifically, they are examining how water deficit affects interactions between plants and arthropod-vectored pathogens and the impact of these interactions on pest and disease epidemiology in crops (wheat, corn, sorghum) and vegetables (potatoes and tomatoes.)
They are also evaluating the incidence of insecticide resistance in key pests of crops and vegetables, corn rootworm and the potato psyllid, and research measures that mitigate the impact of insecticide resistance to profitability of crops and vegetables produced in Texas. They continue efforts to establish the effectiveness of using biocontrol measures to suppress invasive noxious weeds in the Texas Panhandle.
Opportunities exist for development of new programs exploring the feasibility of high-value vegetable production in the Texas High Plains. Studies are focusing on small-scale, high-value production systems (high tunnels) and include research on the impact of abiotic and biotic stresses on vegetable yield and quality. Corporate sponsors have expressed interest in this opportunity.
The Cropping Systems team is developing new cropping systems that address changing production practices and abiotic and biotic stresses in response to declining irrigation water from Ogallala Aquifer and climate extremes.
Successful cropping systems will depend on the effective use of annual precipitation as well as limited irrigation that encompass improvements in soil management and the incorporation of non-traditional crops. Other efforts include:
- Assess crop water use efficiencies associated with crop selection and improvements in soil management through conservation tillage (e.g., no-till, minimal tillage, strip tillage, etc.) to enhance fallow efficiency.
- Evaluate the physiological performance of non-traditional crops (new rotation crops, cover crops, oilseeds, vegetables, etc.) under water-limited conditions to determine potential production risks.
- Integrate cattle grazing and dual-purpose wheat production as well as other forage crops.
- Improve management of multiple stresses and address interactions between biotic and abiotic stresses for crop production.