Animal agriculture is dominant in Texas. It accounts for over two-thirds of gross farm-gate sales and contributes substantially to rural communities and the overall statewide economy. This is only possible as long as animal agriculture can deliver a safe and healthy consumable product to the global market through efficient and sustainable production methods.
Texas farmers and ranchers plant nearly 8 million acres of small grains annually, which include wheat (>6 million acres), oats (>600 thousand acres), and barley, rye, and triticale. Whether protecting commodity crops or developing drought-resistant landscaping plants, AgriLife Research provides solutions for natural resources and water conservation, disease-free crops and plants and systems for crop production.
- 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.
- The Amarillo center has developed a scientific basis for cost-effective air quality emissions abatement for open-lot cattle feedlots and dairies in the Southern Great Plains of Texas and Kansas.
- The Lubbock center conducted a multi-year study showing that fertilizing cotton with more than 100lbs of nitrogen per acre could negatively affect cotton quality.
- San Angelo researchers are selecting goats that ovulate earlier in the spring to enhance the production of year-round goat meat and allow producers to benefit from the almost 20% higher prices in the low volume winter months.
- Stephenville scientists developed an in vitro embryo production and transfer system to improve summer fertility in commercial or dairy cows, this advance save the industry $40 million annually.
Current Projects & Selected Accomplishments
Early calving-line Brahmans could improve beef production efficiency
Ronald Randel studies pregnancy stress and calving rates of beef cattle, and is working to develop an early-calving line of tropically adapted Brahman cattle to increase beef production efficiency in Texas and other tropical regions.
Solutions for 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. Genomic selection tools are being implemented to improve animal health, fertility and production.
Genotyping cotton for drought resistance
Corpus Christi Center is home to the Drought Tolerance Laboratory, where scientists study drought tolerance of cotton and sugarcane. One study found two cotton genotypes that showed that high water use efficiency as a result of higher biomass partition into seed cotton. Two transgenic sugarcane varieties showed higher water use efficiency while maintaining biomass production.
Legumes for alternate uses
Researchers at the Corpus Christi Center are studying warm-season legumes – such as peanuts and soybeans. Researchers want to know if these legumes can be used as grain, hay, grazing or bioenergy crops. Legumes can be beneficial since they provide nitrogen and soil stabilization for grasses that are use for bioenergy or livestock grazing.
Ornamental plant breeding
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.