As Texas agriculture grows, it has a positive multiplier effect throughout the economy. For every dollar of agricultural production in Texas, another $2.19 is generated by other industries in the state to support this additional output. This interconnected nature makes it imperative that Texas A&M AgriLife is positioned to anticipate and respond to these demands and challenges.
One such demand of agricultural is, of course, the challenge it provides for our land. We strive to be good stewards of the land resource and provide sustainable solutions to the impact of agriculture on land. Much of this work includes developing efficient cropping systems and cropping system management practices.
- A calibrated model was developed for the Dallas-Fort Worth area that allows governments agencies to make better decisions on land resource and water quality management.
- The Overton Center boosts state income by $150 million in the forage, pasture, and livestock industries of East Texas.
- The Lubbock center has found a method to improve cotton production on root-knot nematode and black root rot infested land.
- 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.
- Green industry uses around 6 million acre-feet of water yearly, through new research the Uvalde center is helping this industry improve water-use efficiency
- Vernon center researchers determined livestock managed on semi-arid rangeland results in the maintenance of ecosystem and health and improvements over 30 years.
Current Projects & Selected Accomplishments
Natural Resource Economics and Policy
In today’s changing world, stewards of natural resources must account for diverse factors such as the effects of extreme weather and societal conflicts or the side effects of management strategies.
Dr. Gregory L. Torell leads a theoretical and applied research program on effective management of water, agriculture, and natural resources. Among his research topics are hydroeconomic modeling of river and aquifer systems; the nexus of food, energy, and water; urban and rural water use; risk management; and environmental benefits of ecosystem services.
The program has worked to train and guide water professionals, recommend profitable crop choices to regional producers, and provide science-based recommendations for policy makers.
Effects of military training on land
What can 60 years of military training due to land erosion? Researchers at the Blackland Center are monitoring just that. Located in Central Texas, Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world with combat training as its primary mission.
Over sixty years of training exercises with heavy armor units has significantly degraded the land by accelerating the soil and vegetation erosion processes. This also impacts downstream water resources that provide drinking water for nearly a quarter million Central Texans.
The Center’s Water Science Laboratory has monitored stream flow and associated sediment export from many Fort Hood training areas since 1995 using a Continuous Monitoring System. This system represents actual rangeland conditions so leaders can make adjustments to the training scheduling to minimize vegetation damage and erosion.
Sustainable rangeland management
Richard Teague’s project involves ranch-scale, multi-county assessments that address climate change mitigation and adaptation. He works to find grazing strategies for soil fertility and stability. His research looks at grazing management strategies for livestock producers to mitigate and adapt to alternative climate change scenarios.
Cropland Assessment Efforts
The Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP) Modeling Team at the Temple Blackland Center helps state, federal, and nonprofit environmental groups with high-priority concerns such as soil erosion. The team completed 12 reports for the 2003-2006 CEAP Cropland Assessment. The research showed significant improvement in the loss of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides from cropland by adopting conservation practices. More work is to be done in conservation planning for high fertilizer loss.
Rotation Cropping Systems
Overton researchers are conducting trials to develop cropping systems using rotations of cowpea and forage rye to reduce nitrogen fertilizer inputs in forage and cowpea seed production systems for East Texas.
Fertilization timing impact on loss of nitrogen and phosphorus
Soil and Crop Science researchers are studying the effects of fertilization timing on loss of nitrogen and phosphorus when planting St. Augustine sod grass. Data suggests that in healthy, properly irrigated and fertilized sod, environmental loss of nitrogen and phosphorus should be minimal.