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Sustainable AgroEcosystems in the Texas High Plains

Purpose

To address food and fiber security and an economically viable production system that does not deplete the resources or destroy the environment on which it depends. This will be accomplished by building on past successes to create a long-term agroecosystem site for basic and applied research, teaching and outreach with full partnerships among agriculture stakeholders. These efforts are aimed at:

Relevance

The semi-arid Texas High Plains is one of the most intensive agricultural areas in the United States and it is a model for factors driving change. Agriculture conservatively accounts for more than 40 percent of the region’s economy, but depends heavily on water for irrigation from the Ogallala aquifer. The aquifer is declining at a rate of over 1 foot per year, recharge is negligible, and water demand is expected to exceed supply within the next 10 to 20 years. About 30 percent of the cotton and 25 percent of the cattle on feed in the United States are located here primarily in monoculture systems. Within the past five years, the dairy industry and an emerging renewable fuel industry have entered the region, placing increased demands on soil and water resources and influencing cropping decisions. Lessons learned here have national and global significance and application.

Potential Impacts

Lead Agency: Texas Tech University

Partner: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture