As our population grows, increased demand is placed on our land, food supply, and already decreasing water supply. That is why Texas A&M AgriLife emphasizes sustainability in our efforts and developing new sustainable processes. We believe sustainability is a simple fact of good stewardship of resources. To develop a sustainable system, it must increase output to optimize the utilization of resources.
- Stephenville center researchers developed strategies to increase waste management efficiency by 45% through on-dairy phosphorus recycling, which saves dairy producers $900 in a land purchase or lease costs.
- Scientists discovered that conservation practices in streams of the Upper Mississippi River reduce sediment loads by 31%.
- Efforts are underway at the Uvalde center to launch a statewide initiative on reusing gray water for irrigating urban areas with the goal of generation water saving of at least 8%.
Current Projects & Selected Accomplishments
Grazing management techniques for sustainability of forage resources
Dr. Monte Rouquette has identified peak stocking rates and strategies to optimize sustainable land-use, so that field grazing beef cattle increase weight. There is a correlation between soil nutrient status and stocking rates and fertility regimens.
By cycling nutrients to pastures:
- forage can be grown without nitrogen fertilizer
- reduces the need for fossil fuels to make fertilizer
- enhances the production of natural forage-fed beef
Sustainability of ornamental plants
Brent Pemberton studies the sustainability of ornamental plants in the Eastern region of Texas. Specifically, Pemberton develops roses adapted for heat tolerance and disease resistance. The best-adapted ones are called Texas Superstars®. These roses can serve as landscape plants that reduce the need for pesticides and have reliable ornamental value for home and commercial landscapes.
Water efficiency in the green industry
A new initiative at the Uvalde Center is focused on identifying native and adapted plant species with low water requirements. These plant species have great potential for commercial use in sustainable urban landscapes, rangeland restoration and reclamation, forage production, and improved food and shelter for wildlife. Drs. Xuejun Dong and Vjiay Joshi are also researching the potential to use cold-tolerant spineless cactus as a drought-reserve forage for the livestock industry in more northern areas of Texas.
New treatment method removes heavy metal contaminants generated by electric power plants
A new treatment method – known as the Hybrid Zero-Valent Iron treatment – was developed to remove more than 95% of heavy metal contaminants generated by electric power plants. Evoqua Water Technology and AgriLife Research have an exclusive license agreement and a research and development agreement to continue growing this technology in the future.
Soil health in Texas Southern High Plains
Continuous tillage, monocultural cropping systems, and an ever-increasing demand on water has impacted soil health in Texas Southern Plains. AgriLife Researchers developed a three-year cropping systems study on the impacts of soil health-promoting practices on soil carbon, soil water holding capacity, nutrition availability, and yield and production economics. Demonstrations are currently ongoing.