Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Vernon is located in North Texas, near the Oklahoma border. Research scientists at Vernon have developed nationally and internationally recognized, science-based knowledge documenting natural resource management for integrated crop and livestock production systems, and sustainable use of natural resources in semiarid environments.
The researchers are investigating canola as a viable and profitable crop for the region, as well as triticale, a man-made cereal crop with a high livestock-feed value. The center has also developed hybrid grain sorghum that is well adapted to the Rolling Plains environment.
Key Research Areas
- Rangeland Restoration and Management
- Livestock and Forage Production Systems
- Crop and Tillage Systems
- Watershed Management and Water Quality
- Agricultural Resource Economics
- Implementation of conservation tillage using no-till practices in wheat production has saved wheat producers about $5.6 million annually.
- Evaluating the Seymour Aquifer for nitrate-nitrogen concentration could save cotton producers in the Rolling Plains about $2 million annually in nitrogen fertilization.
- Reduction of bloat in stocker cattle grazing wheat pastures could save producers $18.9 million in annual income.
- Research data indicated nitrogen fertilizer applications could be reduced by 43–72% when accounting for well water nitrates and crediting toward crop nitrogen requirements. Crop yields were maintained with reductions in nitrogen inputs, showing well water nitrate is used by irrigated crops.
- Scientists at Vernon are developing a behavioral-based monitoring system using RFID technology for preclinical detection and mitigation of Bovine respiratory disease which costs the cattle industry $1 billion annually in morbidity and mortality.
- Research at the Vernon Center shows using no-till cropping systems and irrigating crops below full demand results in erosion control and improved soil and water quality.
- Vernon center researchers determined livestock managed on semi-arid rangeland results in the maintenance of ecosystem and health and improvements over 30 years.
- The Vernon center has provided the most complete published data set in the world related to summer prescribed burning for mesquite and prickly pear cactus control.
- Grazing Cattle Nutritional Ecology and Production
Researcher: Bill Pinchak
Bill Pinchak utilizes an integrated systems approach to beef cattle nutrition and production by combining discovery and translational research to address contemporary issues such as rumen microbiome response to alternative rations, including distiller’s grains, in sustainable beef production. His research program focuses on the nutritional and rumen microbial ecology through to behavior and production in beef cattle systems.
- Forage Systems/Ornamental Plant Breeding
Researcher: Dariusz Malinowski
Dariusz Malinowski is project leader of the Forage Systems Program. His research focuses on adaptation of forage crops to drought stress and management of forages in semi-arid environments of the Texas Rolling Plains. He also conducts breeding programs of ornamental plants – winter-hardy hibiscus and has licensed several varieties for commercial evaluation.His main areas of research include breeding and management of summer-dormant cool-season grasses, associations of Neotyphodium spp. fungal endophytes with cool-season grasses, compatibility of annual and perennial legumes with summer-dormant cool-season grasses, and effects of environmental variables on wheat forage physiology and biochemistry in relation to bloat occurrence in grazing cattle.
- Geospatial Hydrology
Researcher: Srinivasulu Ale
Srinivasulu Ale’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of strategies that conserve water, promote water-use efficiency, and protect soil and water quality in diverse agro-ecosystems.His research group studies the complex interrelationships between climate, water resources, geology, topography, cropping systems, and soils and management practices. He uses data analysis and simulation modeling using computer models such as SWAT, APEX, DSSAT, DRAINMOD and ADAPT. Current research includes:
- Assessment of the impacts of land-use change, climate change and rangeland management on hydrology and environment.
- Development and evaluation of efficient irrigation and crop management strategies under current and future climate change scenarios.
- Characterization of groundwater quantity and quality. Evaluation of the best management practices for protecting soil and water quality.
- Sustainable Rangeland Management
Researcher: Richard Teague
Richard Teague’s project includes ranch-scale, multi-county assessments that address three related objectives in the context of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation:1. Determine the extent that grazing strategies influence key ecosystem services (especially soil and vegetation carbon sequestration), soil fertility and stability, water quality, net primary and secondary production, and the economic viability of working ranches that contribute to the retention of open space and rural community health in the Southern Plains.2. Determine the extent that different grazing management strategies can be used by livestock producers to mitigate and adapt to alternative climate change scenarios.3. Evaluate the long-term economic consequences of using alternative grazing management strategies to achieve rangeland restoration and production goals.
- Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics
Researcher: Seong Park
Seong Park has been conducting research in various areas of natural resource including the ground-water conservation and the sustainable agricultural systems in the Southern Great Plains. His primary area of focus has been in analyzing economic dimensions of various management practices to improve economic values of resources under climate change.
- Environmental Soil Science
Researcher: Paul DeLaune
Paul DeLaune’s research focuses on protecting water resources while maintaining agricultural production goals in semi-arid regions of Texas. His goal is to identify management practices that enhance the capacity of a soil to sustain biological productivity, maintain environmental health, and promote plant, animal and human health.
- Cropping Systems Research
Researcher: Curtis Adams
Curtis Adams’ research program focuses on gaining better understanding of how various parts of cropping systems or entire cropping systems function and applying that understanding to make improvements in profitability and environmental impact.In this effort, the tools and principles of crop physiology to crop ecology are used to design and implement diverse research projects. Several topics are of particular interest, including: the impacts of root system architecture and root growth dynamics on crop resilience and efficiency; improving nutrient containment and cycling in cropping systems; and effective use of water.Others include the development of biofuel cropping systems; cropping system carbon sequestration; and diversifying existing cropping systems to enhance ecosystem services and improve economic stability in rural communities.